In an NFL offseason that has already produced plenty of fireworks, more are on the way as free agency looms large. Teams are working hard to create cap space after COVID-19 impacted league revenue streams and led to a sizable drop in the salary cap for the 2021 season. While the general buzz around the NFL is that top players will still see big-money deals, it is the next tier of players likely to get squeezed by the financial shortcomings for each franchise.
With the league’s legal tampering window opening Monday and free agency officially kicking off Wednesday, I decided to rank the top 25 free agents and work out a logical landing spot for each of them. Players who received the franchise tag were not included and this list is updated through Sunday night. There is still a possibility teams could announce a deal to bring back a player before they ever hit the open market, much like the Packers recently did with Aaron Jones.
Keep in mind, these are not necessarily predictions for where each player will land, rather a look at good fits for team and athlete to find success. I took into account each team’s cap space and the financial figures I reference throughout are pulled from Spotrac and updated through Sunday night. Without further ado, here are my top 25 free agents for the 2021 NFL offseason.
1. Shaquil Barrett, EDGE, TB – Broncos Shaq Barrett proved he was much more than a one-season wonder. He did not come anywhere close to replicating his outrageous 19.5-sack 2019 season, but he racked up eight sacks in the regular season and four more in the playoffs. While the Buccaneers seem determined to keep him, a return to Denver could be in the cards. With Von Miller in flux and the Broncos needing a pass rusher to play across from Bradley Chubb, Barrett could be a logical fit. He fits the prototypical build of a 3-4 outside linebacker for Vic Fangio. With an estimated $32.6 in projected cap space, the Broncos will be able to make Barrett one of the top-paid edge players in the league. Editor’s note: Barrett has re-signed with the Buccaneers.
2. Trent Williams, OT, SF – Colts I expect San Francisco to make a big push to re-sign Trent Williams, but the Colts have $48 million in cap space after acquiring Carson Wentz and a major hole at left tackle with Anthony Costanzo’s retirement. Williams turns 33 in July, so he is not willing to wait around for a team to grow into a championship window. Indianapolis wants to run the ball and Williams is still one of the better run blocking tackles in the league. This would allow Chris Ballard to target an edge rusher or receiver in the draft while locking up a premier player at a huge position of need.
3. Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, BAL – Bills There was plenty of buzz about Buffalo being a logical landing spot for J.J. Watt, but with the former Texan headed for the desert, the Bills should be in play for another top edge defender. While Buffalo does not have a ton of cap space, it can move on from John Brown and Mario Addison to free up some space. After a run to the AFC Championship game, I expect Brandon Beane to be active in looking for ways to improve the roster. Yannick Ngakoue is still one of the best defensive ends in football. He could play across from Jerry Hughes and eventually A.J. Epenesa. He has had at least eight sacks in each of his five seasons so far. This would be a slam dunk move for Buffalo.
4. Bud Dupree, EDGE, PIT – Falcons It took him a few years, but Bud Dupree is now the pass rusher the Steelers envisioned when they drafted him in the first round back in 2015. He has 19.5 sacks over his past 27 games, including eight in just 11 games in 2020. He was on pace for a monster season before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. Atlanta has been looking for an answer at pass rusher for years now. They have to resolve some cap issues, but Dupree could transform this defense. The Falcons also have the No. 4 pick to find a potential pass rusher to play across from him. New defensive coordinator Dean Pees is known for his ability to scheme pressure, which would only bode well for Dupree’s future success.
5. Kenny Golladay, WR, DET – Patriots With Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson both receiving the franchise tag, the top of the wide receiver market took a major hit. Golladay is clearly the best option available now. His 2020 season was cut short by injury, but he showed in 2019 that he can be a team’s top target. He had nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in a Pro Bowl season. There is no team in the league that has a greater need at receiver than the New England Patriots. It just so happens, the Pats have roughly $65 million in cap space. Spending a chunk of that to grab a reliable outside receiver for Cam Newton, and whoever the quarterback of the future is, would be a great move to rejuvenate the offense.
6. Joe Thuney, G, NE – Jets Whether Sam Darnold is the quarterback in 2021 or not, the Jets need to improve the offensive line. New York finished in the top 10 in sacks allowed in 2020 and both of their starting guards, Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten, can be released with little cap implications. It would actually open up more space for a franchise already projected to have just shy of $70 million in signing power. Targeting Joe Thuney would make a ton of sense to help bolster the interior of the line. He played the 2020 season on the franchise tag and Joe Douglas seems willing to spend money to build an offensive line. If Thuney is looking for a lucrative long-term deal, the Jets could be more than willing to give it to him.
7. Corey Linsley, C, GB – Ravens The Packers would love to bring back Corey Linsley, but Green Bay lacks a ton of cap space and could have more pressing needs. Elgton Jenkins played center in college and spent some time there this season when injuries cropped up. As a result, I could see Linsley finding his way to Baltimore to protect Lamar Jackson. The Ravens had issues at center all season long and Linsley would bring some much needed stability to the position. It does not solve all of Baltimore’s problems, but it would be a smart move to bolster their interior offensive line.
8. Mitchell Schwartz, OT, KC – Seahawks While there are certainly injury concerns here to monitor, Mitchell Schwartz is one of the best right tackles in football. He made All-Pro in 2018 and has been a large part of why the Chiefs have been so successful offensively in recent seasons. Just go back and rewatch the Super Bowl to understand the impact of not having him on the field. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Russell Wilson went public with his concerns over Seattle’s offensive line. With $21 million in cap space, and Schwartz possibly coming at a discount due to the injury, this could be a great move for the front office to show Wilson it is listening to him. Schwartz would be a massive upgrade over Brandon Shell.
9. Will Fuller, WR, HOU – Chargers Justin Herbert had a stunning rookie season and the Chargers seem poised for a jump in 2020. In order to see Herbert’s success continue, L.A. needs to surround him with talent at receiver. Will Fuller had a phenomenal year in his own right, but did get tagged with a PED suspension, which carries over to Week 1 in 2021. With Deshaun Watson intent on forcing his way out of Houston, Fuller should consider linking up with another young quarterback. Herbert has a strong arm and Fuller would give him a consistent deep threat that the offense lacked for much of the year. Herbert’s average depth of target was 24th in the league among qualified passers. Fuller would be a perfect complement across from Keenan Allen.
10. Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE, TEN – Cowboys Dallas’ defense was one of the worst in the NFL this past season. The Cowboys surrendered five yards per carry in 2020, the third-worst mark in the league. Tyrone Crawford is headed for free agency and the front office needs to devote some resources to reshaping the defense. A great move would be landing Jadeveon Clowney. He is not the elite pass rusher many hoped he would develop into, but the former No. 1 pick is an elite run defender. Playing across from DeMarcus Lawrence likely wouldn’t hurt either. Tennessee signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal in 2020. Another short-term, “prove it” deal could be in play for Clowney, especially after an injury-derailed season.
11. Carl Lawson, EDGE, CIN – Bengals On the surface, Carl Lawson’s numbers might not jump off the page. He had 5.5 sacks in 2020, his most since his rookie season in 2017. Dive a little deeper and you will see that Lawson had 44 pressures this past season, which was the fourth most in the NFL. One fewer than Aaron Donald and Joey Bosa. That grabs your attention. How about him leading the league in quarterback knockdowns with 27? Lawson is clearly a top-tier pass rusher, even if his sack numbers don’t show it yet. With a solid amount of cap space, the Bengals would be wise to bring him back. If he does hit the open market, expect the Jets, Patriots, Titans and Raiders to all be interested in securing his services.
12. Dalvin Tomlinson, DL, NYG – Jaguars I think the Giants will make a strong push to keep him, but without much cap space and other needs on the defense, there is a good chance they won’t be able to afford bringing Dalvin Tomlinson back. The former Alabama defensive tackle is the best interior run stopper in this free agent class. He has 15 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. Tomlinson chips in as a pass rusher as well, with 3.5 sacks in 2019 and 2020. Jacksonville’s run defense was horrendous this past season, allowing the third-most yards per game and sixth most yards per carry. Adding Tomlinson to plug up the middle would only increase the effectiveness of Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson on the outside.
13. John Johnson, S, LAR – Raiders Safety has been a sore spot for the Raiders in recent years. Johnathan Abrams and Erik Harris struggled as starters in 2020 and Las Vegas does not have much in the way of proven depth behind them. John Johnson could be a reliable long-term answer. Outside of an injury-shortened 2019 season, Johnson has been a fixture for the Rams. He is a willing tackler and can more than hold his own in coverage. He is not the flashiest player available, but there is no question he would be a major upgrade over what the Raiders have been working with in previous seasons. Los Angeles will be sad to see him go, but is currently a projected $32 million over the cap.
14. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT – Giants Is Daniel Jones a franchise quarterback? For now, the Giants are acting under the assumption that he is. In order to truly evaluate Jones, he needs more consistent talent around him. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Evan Engram have all struggled with injuries over the past few seasons. Finding Jones a reliable target like JuJu Smith-Schuster could make a world of difference. While he has been able to repeat his incredible 2018 season, Smith-Schuster has become one of the best possession receivers in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger actually had a slightly better passer rating this past season when targeting JuJu than he did in 2018. Finding a security blanket for Jones is a huge priority. Signing Smith-Schuster will be expensive, but probably not at the top of the receiver market.
15. Matt Judon, EDGE, BAL – Buccaneers If Shaquil Barrett leaves in free agency, bringing in Matt Judon would be a really solid consolation prize. He excelled in Baltimore’s blitz-happy defensive scheme, which should translate well to Todd Bowles’ blitz-happy scheme in Tampa. Judon would give the Buccaneers another productive pass rusher to lineup across from Jason Pierre-Paul and will probably cost a little bit less to sign than Barrett. He might not be quite as prolific, but with at least six sacks in each of his past four seasons, he would be a great chess piece for Bowles to unleash.
16. Trey Hendrickson, EDGE, NO – Lions Much like Leonard Floyd, Trey Hendrickson had a breakout 2020 season and had a position coach with his team take a head-coaching job elsewhere. Not only does Hendrickson have familiarity with Dan Campbell, he would fill a position of need for the Lions defense. Detroit has been desperately searching for an edge rusher for years. I don’t know that Hendrickson will be the answer to all their prayers, but he would represent a nice start to rebuilding Detroit’s defense.
17. Hunter Henry, TE, LAC – Chargers This move would mostly be about keeping some continuity around Justin Herbert. It is clear the reigning Rookie of the Year has talent, but with a new head coach and new system being installed, finding some familiarity for him to fall back on is important. Plus, Henry has quietly been a very productive tight end over the past two seasons. He still struggles with injuries, but he has mostly been available, posting back-to-back 600-yard seasons. He is not as sexy or talented as Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, but Henry gets the job done. With $51 million in cap space, the Chargers should have the room necessary to bring him back on a reasonable deal. Something in line with Austin Hooper’s four-year, $42 million deal from last season feels like a good template.
18. Romeo Okwara, EDGE, DET – Browns Cleveland desperately needs an edge rusher across from Myles Garrett. Romeo Okwara is coming off a 10-sack season and feels like a clean fit in the Browns’ 4-3 scheme. He would benefit from not being the center of attention as well, as he often had little help rushing the passer in Detroit. It is not as big a move as landing J.J. Watt or Shaquil Barrett, but Okwara would be a solid starter. This move would also free the front office up to target some help in the secondary or at linebacker in the NFL Draft.
19. Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN – Jaguars The Jaguars have not had good production at the tight end position since Marcedes Lewis left town, and that was in 2018. The presumption is Trevor Lawrence will be the new quarterback in Jacksonville and the Titans need to build out his supporting cast. With plenty of money to spend, Jonnu Smith would be a logical target. The Jags are plenty familiar with him having played against him for the past four years. He is a dominant presence in the red zone. He and Collin Johnson could be a problem for opposing defenses close to the goal line.
20. William Jackson, CB, CIN – Bengals Flying under the radar a bit, William Jackson is coming off a career year where he finally seemed to live up to his first-round pick status. He has steadily improved in coverage and should be one of the top corners available on the market. Quality cornerbacks are hard to come by as well. Cincinnati would be smart to bring him back before anyone else gets a chance to poach him. With over $44 million in cap space, the Bengals should have no problem finding the money to make a deal.
21. Anthony Harris, S, MIN – Browns With the offense mostly set in Cleveland, the Browns feel very close to being a win-now team. With a couple of savvy free agent additions to the defense, this team should be well-positioned to build off its 2020 success. Safety was a weak spot for the Browns this past year. Andrew Sendejo failed miserably while Ronnie Harrison felt like a band-aid solution. Grant Delpit also missed the whole year due to injury. Anthony Harris would help stabilize things. He did not have quite as strong of a season as he did in 2019, but he is still difficult to beat in coverage and has a nose for the football. With experience at both safety spots, he could start alongside Delpit or another draft pick and turn the position into a strength for the defense.
22. Leonard Floyd, EDGE, LAR – Chargers Sometimes, the NFL is very simple. Leonard Floyd had a breakout year in Los Angeles, racking up 10.5 sacks in his first year with the Rams. While Les Snead would undoubtedly love to bring him back, L.A. is a projected $32.1 million over the cap. So where will Floyd land? How about in the same city? His defensive coordinator just became the new head coach of the other team in town. The Chargers are in the market for someone to play across from Joey Bosa. Assuming that Brandon Staley brings his 3-4 system with him from the Rams, Floyd would be a logical fit in one of those outside linebacker spots.
23. Corey Davis, WR, TEN – Colts T.Y. Hilton is headed for free agency, as is Zach Pascal. Even so, the Colts still would need wide receiver help. Indianapolis already acquired one top-five selection this offseason, why not add another? Corey Davis broke out in a big way in 2020. He still has not lived up to his original draft slot, but posting nearly 1,000 yards receiving in 14 games is bound to earn him another contract somewhere. At 6’3″, he would give the Colts some much-needed size at the position and a potential big-play threat.
24. David Andrews, C, NE – Patriots New England seems set to let Joe Thuney walk after not franchise tagging him, but the Patriots must make some moves to keep its offensive line intact. They already brought back Trent Brown via trade on a restructured deal. After missing 2019 with blood clots in his lungs, David Andrews returned and played well in 2020. New England has plenty of other question marks on offense. Bringing back Andrews prevents one more from popping up.
25. Richard Sherman, CB, SF – Raiders While many predict Richard Sherman will follow Robert Saleh to New York, I think he could stay a little closer to home. Sherman is from Compton, went to Stanford and has spent his entire NFL career in Seattle or San Francisco. I’m not saying he couldn’t switch coasts, but I think he would be very happy to stick in the Pacific time zone. Las Vegas is also in desperate need of corner help. The Raiders have to make a few moves to open up some cap space, but signing Sherman to a modest deal should be feasible. Add in that Las Vegas’ new defensive coordinator is Gus Bradley, architect of the Legion of Boom, and I think this is a perfect fit.
Welcome to the NFL offseason. The Buccaneers put a bow on the 2020 season by steamrolling the Chiefs 31-9 in a lopsided Super Bowl. Now, all 32 teams shift their focus to 2021. After a year like none we have ever seen before, we are heading for an offseason like none before.
There are at least a dozen teams that could make a change at quarterback. The NFL combine will not be taking place as usual either due to COVID-19 restrictions. On top of all of that, the salary cap is set to decrease by close to $15 million. This sets up one of the most interesting and pivotal offseasons in recent memory.
With tons of key players potentially switching teams, there is bound to be a lot of movement in these rankings before we get anywhere close to the start of the 2021 season. As it stands though, this is how each team stacks up following Super Bowl LV, as well as a quick look at each team’s biggest free agents.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 2020 record: 14-2 Key free agents: WR Sammy Watkins, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Charvarius Ward, SS Daniel Sorenson, OLB Damien Wilson Even coming off a drubbing in the Super Bowl, no team is better positioned to make another run at the Super Bowl than the Chiefs. The core of the team is signed through at least 2021 and Kansas City’s front office has done well in recent years to find solid contributors in the draft. As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, it is going to be hard to pick against him and Andy Reid.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020 record: 11-5 Key free agents: WR Chris Godwin, OLB Shaquille Barrett, LB Lavonte David, TE Rob Gronkowski, DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Antonio Brown, K Ryan Succop Tampa Bay will not be going anywhere as long as they have Tom Brady. Yes, Brady will be 44 next season, but this team is built for success all across the roster. There are a number of critical free agents the team will need to lock up, but players like Gronk and AB are likely to stick around to keep chasing rings. There are probably a few other veterans around the league that would do the same thing. Call it the Brady effect, but this team is going to be a front runner to repeat.
3. Buffalo Bills 2020 record: 12-4 Key free agents: G Jon Feliciano, OT Darryl Williams, LB Matt Milano, CB Josh Norman, DE Trent Murphy, TE Tyler Kroft Make no mistake, the Bills are for real. Buffalo has the offensive firepower and defensive grit to be one of the best teams in the league in 2021. Without a ton of crucial free agents, the front office could get aggressive in pursuing another corner across from Tre’Davious White or a more reliable tight end. If Josh Allen can come anywhere close to repeating his performance next year, Buffalo will be back in the postseason.
4. Green Bay Packers 2020 record: 13-3 Key free agents: RB Aaron Jones, C Corey Lindsley, CB Kevin King, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, DE Montravius Adams Once again, the Packers found themselves on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, but could not break through. This team is still really close to putting it all together and finally getting Aaron Rodgers his second ring. Green Bay has some key offensive pieces to re-sign in Jones, Lazard, Lindsley and Tonyan, but this roster is pretty solid throughout. With the right additions at cornerback and along the offensive line, this team should be primed for another deep playoff run.
5. Baltimore Ravens 2020 record: 11-5 Key free agents: OLB Matt Judon, DE Yannick Ngakoue, OLB Tyus Bowser, C Matt Skura, RB Gus Edwards, WR Willie Snead It was a rocky start to the year, but what we saw from the Ravens in the second half of the season points to this team’s championship credentials. Baltimore has some clear holes to fill in the front seven on defense with Judon, Bowser and Ngakoue all out of a contract. The offensive line could use a boost and Baltimore is desperate for another receiver, but the foundation is still strong.
6. Cleveland Browns 2020 record: 11-5 Key free agents: OLB Olivier Vernon, SS Karl Joseph, DT Larry Ogunjobi, WR Rashad Higgins I am very bullish on the 2021 Browns. Cleveland has arguably the best offensive line in the league, a deep group of offensive playmakers and a solid front seven. The secondary should be a bit healthier this season, but the Browns also have enough cap space to make a signing or two to bolster the unit. Baker Mayfield does not need to be Superman for Cleveland to take the next step. If he can avoid turnovers, this team should be in the thick of the division title race.
7. Los Angeles Rams 2020 record: 10-6 Key free agents: C Austin Blythe, OLB Leonard Floyd, RB Malcolm Brown, CB Troy Hill, TE Gerald Everett, SS John Johnson, WR Josh Reynolds, LB Sam Ebukam Los Angeles created themselves a two-year window to go win a championship by acquiring Matthew Stafford. The Rams’ biggest obstacle to accomplishing that goal will be finding a way to supplement the roster with limited draft capital. L.A. is projected to be $25 million over the cap as of right now. They are likely going to lose a lot of their key role players. Stafford is not a mobile quarterback, so if the Rams cannot find a way to protect him, this is going to be a really ugly collapse.
8. Seattle Seahawks 2020 record: 12-4 Key free agents: LB K.J. Wright, RB Chris Carson, DE Bruce Irvin, G Mike Iupati, DT Poona Ford, LB Shaquem Griffin, CB Shaquill Griffin, G Ethan Pocic Seattle played two halves of a great season. The offensive was unstoppable in the first half while the defense looked helpless. In the second half, the offense ground to a halt while the defense found its stride. It all culminated in a disheartening first-round playoff loss. The Seahawks have some critical free agents to re-sign and a number of holes left to fill. Russell Wilson will give them a chance to be great, but the supporting cast is not ideal. Mike Iupati’s retirement is just another sign that this front office needs to invest in the offensive line. If the Texans have taught us anything, it’s that you need to keep your franchise quarterback happy.
9. Miami Dolphins 2020 record: 10-6 Key free agents: C Ted Karras, LB Elandon Roberts, DT Davon Godchaux, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick It all falls on Tua Tagovailoa now. With a solid amount of cap space, a few premium draft picks and a great coaching staff, Miami seems to have the foundation in place to be successful this year and beyond. The theme of this offseason will be finding Tagovailoa some help. Miami knows it needs to find a No. 1 receiver and to solidify the offensive line. Expect the team to be in the running back market as well. With a strong offseason, the Dolphins could definitely push themselves into the top five.
10. Tennessee Titans 2020 record: 11-5 Key free agents: WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, DT Da’Quon Jones, OLB Jadeveon Clowney, LB Jayon Brown, K Stephen Gostkowski Tennessee could not take that next step forward after an AFC Championship run in 2019, but the Titans did well to avoid falling apart as well. It is clear the Titans have a formula that works. They just need to reinvest in the front seven on defense to get back on track. Jadeveon Clowney did not work out and you can bet the front office will be looking for some pass rushing help this offseason. Some really interesting free agent decisions exist too in Corey Davis and Jayon Brown.
11. San Francisco 49ers 2020 record: 6-10 Key free agents: OT Trent Williams, CB Richard Sherman, FB Kyle Juszczyk, DE Solomon Thomas, CB K’Waun Williams, RB Jerick McKinnon, FS Jaquiski Tartt, RB Tevin Coleman How does a 6-10 team that lost both its offensive and defensive coordinator end up 11th? Well when pretty much your entire roster is hurt and you still find ways to win football games, that inspires a lot of confidence for when you do get Nick Bosa and company back on the field. This is going to be a crucial offseason for the 49ers, who could be a player in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Cutting Jimmy Garoppolo would get this team up to roughly $45 million in cap space, so big decisions lie ahead.
12. Arizona Cardinals 2020 record: 8-8 Key free agents: CB Patrick Peterson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB Kenyan Drake, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Corey Peters, OLB Markus Golden, OLB Hassan Reddick, OT Kelvin Beachum The future still seems bright in Arizona, even after a rough finish to the season. Kyler Murray is clearly the team’s franchise quarterback. The defense had some bright spots. This team is still a few key pieces away from truly contending and the front office has some tough decisions to make regarding Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald. Finding a new running back will be on the to-do list as well. This offseason is critical for the Cardinals.
13. Indianapolis Colts 2020 record: 11-5 Key free agents: DE Justin Houston, DE Denico Autry, WR T.Y. Hilton, S Malik Hooker, CB Xavier Rhodes, TE Trey Burton, RB Marlon Mack, WR Zach Pascal, QB Jacoby Brissett Not included in that list of free agents are Philip Rivers and Anthony Castonzo, both of whom retired. For the third straight year since Andrew Luck retired, the Colts do not have a plan at quarterback. Perhaps Jacob Eason is the answer, but it is hard to feel too strongly about a player who has yet to attempt an NFL pass. Meanwhile, Indy has a bunch of free agents at key positions on defense and several players close to needing extensions. Thankfully, the Colts have nearly $80 million in cap space to reshape this roster.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 record: 12-4 Key free agents: WR Juju Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner, OLB Bud Dupree, OT Alejandro Villanueva, DE Tyson Alualu, FS Sean Davis, LB Robert Spillane, CB Mike Hilton, OT Zach Banner Pittsburgh’s offensive line is in shambles and Ben Roethlisberger is mulling retirement. Big Ben will probably be back, but the Steelers are going to need to rework his contract to avoid a $41 million cap hit. This offense has a number of critical needs and the Steelers have limited cap space to work with. Maurkice Pouncey is gone as well after announcing his retirement. All eyes will be on the draft for Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if a couple of big-name players walk away in free agency.
15. New Orleans Saints 2020 record: 12-4 Key free agents: QB Jameis Winston, DT Sheldon Rankins, FS Marcus Williams, DE Trey Hendrickson, CB P.J. Williams, TE Jared Cook When you are $70 million over the cap and your future Hall of Fame quarterback is about to retire, you are in for a pretty steep drop. There is still plenty of talent on the roster, but New Orleans has a number of major question marks. With key players on defense headed for free agency and no cap space to re-sign them, the Saints could be headed for a rebuild. I think they will be aggressive in trying to stay competitive, but it is hard to see the path forward right now.
16. Dallas Cowboys 2020 record: 6-10 Key free agents: QB Dak Prescott, DE Tyrone Crawford, LB Sean Lee, C Joe Looney, OLB Aldon Smith, S Xavier Woods This ranking mostly stems from the belief that the Cowboys will bring back Prescott. Before his injury, Dak Prescott was putting up MVP-type numbers. Dallas’ offensive line was decimated by injuries as well and the defense crumbled. Still, with the offensive firepower at Prescott’s disposal and a number of key players returning from injury, this Cowboys team should be in the mix to win the NFC East.
17. Minnesota Vikings 2020 record: 7-9 Key free agents: FS Anthony Harris, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, LB Eric Wilson, LB Todd Davis The Vikings have very few free agents to tend to. Anthony Harris and Ifeadi Odenigbo are quality starters, but Eric Wilson and Todd Davis were rotational players this year and could easily be allowed to walk. Minnesota’s defense needs a huge turn around in 2021 after a very disappointing 2020 season. There is room for improvement on the offensive line as well. This is a make-or-break year for Kirk Cousins and potentially Mike Zimmer.
18. Carolina Panthers 2020 record: 5-11 Key free agents: OT Russell Okung, G John Miller, RB Mike Davis, LB Tahir Whitehead, WR Curtis Samuel, OT Taylor Morton Reports have placed the Panthers in the middle of conversations for Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson. It is clear the front office feels it needs to upgrade at quarterback. With a young defense, there is a lot to like in Carolina. One major area for concern is the offensive line. Three of the team’s starting linemen are headed for free agency. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers spend some draft capital to rebuild their offensive front.
19. New England Patriots 2020 record: 7-9 Key free agents: QB Cam Newton, G Joe Thuney, CB Jason McCourty, RB James White, DT Lawrence Guy, C David Andrews, DE Adam Butler, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Damiere Byrd, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Deatrich Wise New England is primed for a makeover this season with tons of cap space, several key free agents and, potentially, a new quarterback on the way. The Patriots will have a bit more talent, specifically on defense, with several players likely to return after opting out of the 2020 season. Bill Belichick has his work cut out for him to overhaul this roster.
20. Los Angeles Chargers 2020 record: 7-9 Key free agents: OLB Melvin Ingram, TE Hunter Henry, C Mike Pouncey, LB Denzel Perryman, G Dan Feeney Los Angeles is headed in the right direction, but this team still has a long way to go before it is ready to compete for a title. The Chargers are breaking in a first-time head coach in Brandon Staley and have a patchwork offensive line. Mike Pouncey definitely won’t be back either after announcing his retirement. Justin Herbert gives this team a bright future, but there is still a ton of work ahead.
21. New York Giants 2020 record: 6-10 Key free agents: DT Leonard Williams, OT Cameron Fleming, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, WR Austin Mack, RB Dion Lewis, RB Wayne Gallman New York had some significant highs in 2020, taking the Bucs to the brink and beating the Seahawks in Seattle. Unfortunately, those were few and far between. Getting Saquon Barkley back will help this offense, but the team is still lacking playmakers. It seems like Joe Judge has reset the culture though and given the team a much brighter outlook. This defense is underrated and is capable of keeping New York in games.
22. Chicago Bears 2020 record: 8-8 Key free agents: WR Allen Robinson, QB Mitchell Trubisky, WR CordarrellePatterson, FS Tashaun Gipson, G Germain Ifedi, DE Mario Edwards Chicago has a big decision to make this offseason. Consensus seems to be that Trubisky is not the answer at quarterback, but the Bears are not well positioned to find his successor. With Robinson unlikely to return, and an uninspiring offensive line, this is not exactly a prime spot for free agents quarterbacks either. How the Bears answer their quarterback question is going to determine their outlook for 2021.
23. Washington 2020 record: 7-9 Key free agents: G Brandon Scherff, DE Ryan Kerrigan, CB Ronald Darby, QB Kyle Allen Washington’s defense is one of the best in the league. Now it needs to invest its resources in building an offense to match. Alex Smith is one of the league’s best comeback stories ever, but he is not the long-term answer at quarterback. He might not even be the short-term solution. With a sizable amount of cap space, Washington could get aggressive in finding some free agent additions, but everything hinges on the quarterback.
24. Las Vegas Raiders 2020 record: 8-8 Key free agents: DE Jonathan Hankins, DE Takkarist McKinley, WR Nelson Agholor, LB Raekwon McMillan, OLB Vic Beasley This franchise has been stuck in neutral for the past five years. Since a short-lived playoff run in 2016, the Raiders have been toiling away in obscurity and mediocrity. Derek Carr likely isn’t the answer at quarterback. Las Vegas’ defense is still one of the worst in the league. This team had it’s moment in the sun after stunning the division rival Chiefs, but it feels 8-8 is the ceiling given who the Raiders currently have on their roster.
25. Denver Broncos 2020 record: 5-11 Key free agents: OLB Von Miller, FS Justin Simmons, SS Kareem Jackson, DT Shelby Harris, WR Tim Patrick, A.J. Johnson, RB Phillip Lindsay Denver’ s offseason is going to be dictated largely by the decision the franchise makes at quarterback. There is some buzz about Deshaun Watson being interested in the Broncos. Drew Lock is still developing, but if the club is going to make a move like that, it would accelerate this team’s timeline significantly. They still have some key pieces on defense to lock up and a major decision looming regarding Von Miller. There is plenty of room for upward mobility.
26. Atlanta Falcons 2020 record: 4-12 Key free agents: C Alex Mack, RB Todd Gurley, SS Keanu Neal, S Damontae Kazee, DE Charles Harris, K Younghoe Koo Where in the world is this team headed? They still have Matt Ryan under contract through 2023 with a pretty easy out after 2021. The future of the club is going to be determined with what the Falcons decide to do with the fourth overall pick. Atlanta has a ton of options. They could find a successor to Ryan, pick their favorite non-QB prospect, or trade down and restock the roster. It is a tough call for new general manager Terry Fontenot.
27. Philadelphia Eagles 2020 record: 4-11-1 Key free agents: OT Jason Peters, WR DeSean Jackson, DE Vinny Curry, S Jalen Mills, RB Corey Clement, WR Greg Ward Carson Wentz is in Indianapolis. Zach Ertz is likely to follow. The Eagles are in salary cap hell and headed for something of a rebuild. Philly has an intriguing young quarterback to work with in Jalen Hurts, but there are question marks all over this roster. Not to mention, the Eagles have a first-time head coach who is a relative unknown. This team does not have the cap space to replenish this depleted roster right away. It is going to be two years before we see the Eagles competing in the NFC East again?
28. Cincinnati Bengals 2020 record: 4-11-1 Key free agents: CB William Jackson, WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross, DE Carl Lawson, DT Mike Daniels, K Randy Bullock, P Kevin Huber The key to this offseason will be protecting Joe Burrow. After the former Heisman winner spent much of 2020 running for his life, rebuilding the offensive line is the focal point. Expect the Bengals to be aggressive in the draft and free agency looking for ways to upgrade its current unit. Cincinnati has a few key free agents as well with William Jackson and Carl Lawson. There is a good chance that one of them departs, opening up another need on that Bengals defense. Cincy will need to stay patient, finding long-term solutions instead of short-team patches.
29. Houston Texans 2020 record: 4-12 Key free agents: DE J.J. Watt, WR Will Fuller, CB Gareon Conley,CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT P.J. Hall, DE Carlos Watkins Things look bleak in Houston. Franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out. J.J. Watt is gone. The roster has holes at cornerback, edge rusher, running back and wide receiver, just to name a few. Under normal circumstances, the Texans could be well-positioned to land a top prospect to accelerate this rebuild. Instead, Houston does not have a pick in the first or second round. The organization maintains that it wants to keep Watson and rebuild his trust, but it is looking like this team might be headed for a long rebuild.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2020 record: 1-15 Key free agents: OT Cam Robinson, CB Tre Herndon, WR Dede Westbrook, WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, CB D.J. Hayden, TE Tyler Eifert, P Dustin Colquitt A new era is coming in Jacksonville. Urban Meyer takes over as head coach and presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence will be the team’s new franchise quarterback. Things are definitely looking up, but the Jaguars have a lot of work to do still. Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson offer exciting building blocks on defense, but the cupboard is pretty bare in the defensive playmaking department. Jacksonville’s secondary was one of the worst in the league in 2020. With a number of receivers headed for free agency, there is a clear need there as well. Lucky for the Jaguars, no one has more cap space this offseason, so Meyer and new general manager Trent Baalke will have every opportunity to reshape the roster.
31. New York Jets 2020 record: 2-14 Key free agents: FS Marcus Maye, WR Breshad Perriman, CB Brian Poole, LB Jordan Jenkins, S Bradley McDougald, CB Arthur Maulet, LB Tarell Basham The Adam Gase experiment ended with a resounding thud as the Jets played their way out of contention for the No. 1 pick. New York now has a huge decision to make about Sam Darnold’s future. It is very possible he is traded this offseason to make way for a new rookie quarterback selected with the second overall pick. The Jets are also still in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, but it is seeming less and less likely they are the winners. At least the organization landed Robert Saleh to be the team’s next coach. His arrival should bring some much needed leadership to the locker room, but also means a scheme change and a likely massive roster turnover. New York is going to be busy this offseason.
32. Detroit Lions 2020 record: 5-11 Key free agents: WR Kenny Golladay, DE Romeo Okwara, WR Marvin Jones, DE Everson Griffin, WR Danny Amendola, LB Jarrad Davis, S Durron Harmon, K Matt Prater Welcome to the bottom of the pile, Detroit. With Kenny Golladay headed for free agency and Matt Stafford now in SoCal, the outlook for the Lions is not very inspiring. It is hard to get excited about anyone on this roster at the moment. Jared Goff gives new coach Dan Campbell a reclamation project, albeit an expensive one. The defense needs an overhaul after some poor roster building in recent years. With a ton of future draft capital now available, the future is a bit brighter in Detroit, but 2021 is going to be a year where this team bottoms out, sheds veteran contracts and looks to rebuild the foundation of the franchise.
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And just like that, the 2020 NFL season is over. Tom Brady wins his seventh Super Bowl ring as the Buccaneers collect their first title since 2002. With that, the draft order is officially set!
We have a long way to go before we get to the draft and there is a lot that needs to be figured out before we hear Trevor Lawrence’s name called in April. We’ve already had one major quarterback trade with Matthew Stafford swapping places with Jared Goff. We could still see Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold or all three moved at some point before April.
I know it is almost impossible to predict the trades in mock drafts, but we also know that there are going to be a ton that happen, this year more than most. Not predicting a few trades at this point almost makes the mock less realistic at this point. For example, the Jets are not likely to stay at No. 2 without trading Darnold. If they hang onto Darnold, then there is a good chance they trade down from that spot to accumulate more draft capital.
With all of that in mind, here are the trades that I projected in this mock draft.
New York trades 1.2 to San Francisco for 1.12, 2.43, 2022 first-round pick and 2022 second-round pick Cincinnati trades 1.5 and 4.103 to Carolina for 1.8 and 2.39 Minnesota trades 1.14 to Miami for 1.18, 3.81, 7.194 Philadelphia trades Carson Wentz and 2.37 to Indianapolis for 1.21 and 3.84
I think the Jets are going to give Darnold one more year. With a new offensive coordinator coming in, there is a chance he makes some meaningful progress in year four. In this scenario too, New York now has three first-round picks in 2022, which means they can be aggressive in acquiring a new quarterback if Darnold really does not work out. Plus, there is a ton of familiarity with the 49ers after hiring Robert Saleh.
Carolina and Miami don’t want to wait around to grab the players they covet.
This Eagles trade I mulled for a long time. With reports that Wentz will be traded within the week, I think the most likely suitor is the Colts, where Wentz would be reunited with his former offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Wentz had an impressive rookie season working with Reich and likely would have won MVP in 2017 before suffering a torn ACL. If he regains that form playing for his old coach, this is a steal for Indy.
The draft order is according to Tankathon and compensatory picks are projected by Over the Cap. Time to dive in! I went three rounds this time, so here is what I think teams should do over the first 104 selections.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson Vegas Insider has Trevor Lawrence at -2000 to be the first overall pick. This thing is all but set in stone. He is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. Trent Baalke probably already has the pick prepared to send in. Start buying your jerseys now Jaguars fans.
2. San Francisco New York Jets (2-14) – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU The assumption has been that the Jets will move on from Sam Darnold, but what if new head coach Robert Saleh is serious about keeping the former USC quarterback? It is certainly possible, as Darnold will not turn 24 until June. In this scenario, the Jets work out a deal with Saleh’s former employer to allow the Jets to stockpile more draft picks. The 49ers now get a chance to cut Jimmy Garoppolo, saving a ton of cap space to re-sign key free agents, and finding a quarterback that perfectly fits Kyle Shanahan’s system.
3. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (10-6) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon Miami seems pretty determined to give Tua Taogovailoa more time to develop, which is a smart move. He has only played 10 NFL games. There were going to be some rough spots. While receiver is a popular pick here, there is way more depth at receiver in this draft than there is at offensive tackle. This is not a huge need after drafting Austin Jackson last year, but this would give the Dolphins two high-upside tackles to bookend their offensive line. It might take a year or two for the unit to fully gel, but Miami could have one of the league’s best offensive lines by 2022.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State Atlanta is one of the most interesting teams in this draft. The front office says it remains committed to Matt Ryan, but picking in the top four is something teams do not want to do often. I considered a trade back, but I can’t see Carolina and Atlanta making a deal. I also don’t think New England or Washington will be willing to part with the resources it will take to trade into the top four. I am not dead set on this being Fields, only because I think Trey Lance’s upside could make sense for the Falcons long term. For now, this pick remains Fields, because he has the higher floor, but I’ve still got more work to do, so the order of quarterbacks taken could still shake up.
5. Carolina Panthers via Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State Carolina is clearly looking for its quarterback of the future. Reportedly, the Panthers offered the No. 8 pick in a deal to acquire Matt Stafford before he ultimately landed in Los Angeles. I don’t think the Panthers will have any issues being aggressive to move up a few spots to land a quarterback. Trey Lance has all the physical tools you could want in a quarterback. If he gets a season to learn behind Teddy Bridgewater, he could develop into one of the best in the league under Matt Rhule.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama I know there are plenty of Eagles fans who want this to be a receiver, but like I said with the Dolphins, this is another deep receiver class. The same can’t be said for the corner class, which is another huge position of need for the Eagles. Patrick Surtain is ready to be a lockdown corner from Day 1. He has ideal size and length to play on the perimeter and brings the requisite level of physicality needed to excel. Surtain would Philadelphia a solid corner tandem alongside Darius Slay.
7. Detroit Lions (5-11) – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU Detroit has clearly entered a rebuild. It is going to take at least two years to turn this franchise around and the team is financially committed to Jared Goff for the next two seasons. Detroit can afford to go with the best player available, which also happens to be at a huge position of need. Ja’Marr Chase dominated college football in 2019 before opting out in 2020. He would give Goff a clear No. 1 option to throw to, providing the Lions with an important building block as they reshape this offense.
8. Cincinnati Bengals via Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech Protecting Joe Burrow is priority number one for the Bengals this offseason. Cincinnati knows it needs to rebuild its offensive line. Sliding down a couple of spots and landing a high-upside tackle in Christian Darrisaw feels like a really solid start to the draft. Darrisaw brings a big frame and impressive power to the position. The biggest knock in his game is agility and foot speed. He has the tools to become a franchise tackle. At worst, he would be an above average starter on the right side.
9. Denver Broncos (5-11) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State Denver is in for an interesting offseason. They have a decision to make regarding Von Miller, who is embroiled in a legal situation. However, the team has few crucial free agents of its own to take care of. Justin Simmons, A.J. Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Shelby Harris and Tim Patrick are the biggest players on the market. Outside of Simmons, I can’t see many of them commanding top dollar. If Johnson walks, Micah Parsons would be a logical player to target. He has the build of a prototypical linebacker with great speed. He also brings a bit of pass rushing ability as well.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech Few teams struggled more to stop opposing passing attacks than the Cowboys. Even before Dak Prescott’s injury, Dallas was winning games in shootouts. Caleb Farley would help turn things around. He is a big corner with good length. He was one of the top corners in the ACC in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season. Adding Farley across from Trevon Diggs would give the Cowboys an exciting young tandem to rely on going forward.
11. New York Giants (6-10) – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami New York’s defense was a pleasant surprise over the second half of the season. However, with both Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson headed for free agency, finding another talented disruptor up front is going to be essential. If Gregory Rousseau is still on the board, I think he would be a great fit. He is a bit raw, but he has the size and length to develop into a dominant 3-4 end. New York could even stand him up on some passing downs, but from what I have seen on film, Rousseau looks most comfortable with his hand in the dirt.
12. New York Jets via San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama If the Jets decide to stick with Darnold, they will need to invest in getting him some weapons. Jaylen Waddle is one of the best open field players in this year’s class. He was nearly unstoppable before suffering a major ankle injury. He showed his grit, too, returning before he was truly ready to play in the national title game. He is the type of playmaker the Jets have been lacking for so long. With a few extra picks as well, New York can continue to fill out this roster.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern Justin Herbert looked the part of a franchise quarterback in 2020. Now the Chargers need to invest in protecting him. Rashawn Slater looks the part of a starting left tackle in the NFL. There is some room for improvement on the technical side of his game, but he showed enough in 2019 to warrant first-round consideration, even after opting out for 2020. His floor is a starting-caliber guard.
14. Miami Dolphins via Minnesota Vikings (7-9) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama Giving Tua Tagovailoa the tools to succeed is going to be the theme of this offseason. After finding a new personal body guard for him, the Dolphins can get aggressive in grabbing one of his favorite college targets. DeVonta Smith was incredible during his final season, putting up mind-boggling stats. He has good hands and versatility to line up in the slot or on the perimeter. The only knock on him is regarding his frame. He is listed at 175 lbs on Alabama’s roster. If he can show the ability to bulk up even a little bit before his pro day without sacrificing too much of his explosiveness, he will check every box for what teams look for in an elite receiver.
15. New England Patriots (7-9) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama Who is the long-term answer at quarterback in New England? For that matter, who is the short-term answer? There is no question this is the biggest question mark the Patriots need to answer this offseason. Perhaps they could go after Jimmy Garoppolo if he is cut by the 49ers. Until that happens, quarterback will remain the team’s biggest need and Mac Jones could be the perfect candidate to fill it. He is pro ready and brings a lot of the physical tools teams look for. He does not have an elite arm, but he has enough zip on his throws and possesses a very pretty deep ball. New England will need to find him some receivers, but he has the potential to be the long-term solution for whatever team takes a chance on him.
16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida I am pretty sure I have been mocking this one since November. Kyle Pitts teaming up with Kyler Murray in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense is a scary thought for the rest of the NFC West. Arizona has not had much production from the position in recent years and Pitts would offer an immediate upgrade. He was a matchup nightmare this season at Florida and I could see Kingsbury using him in a similar way.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina The Raiders are desperate for corner help, which is why they drafted Damon Arnette in the first round last year. After one season, that seems to be a reach, but he could still be part of the solution if Las Vegas moves him into the slot. Jaycee Horn could take his place on the outside. He has good size and speed for the position. He is also a scheme fit pretty much anywhere given that he has played zone, press and off-man coverage in his time at South Carolina.
18. Minnesota Vikings via Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State Minnesota slides back a few spots and still lands the top interior lineman in this class. The Vikings’ offensive line was a liability down the stretch and needs some new talent. Wyatt Davis put the finishing touches on a great career at Ohio State with an appearance in the national championship game. He was a big part of the success of J.K Dobbins and Trey Sermon during their time in Columbus. Dalvin Cook would definitely benefit from this selection.
19. Washington Football Team (7-9) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota Washington still has a major opening at quarterback to solve this offseason, but this team has more holes to fill than just that, so I can’t see them getting aggressive to trade up for one of these rookies. The cost would be too high from their current draft slot. Instead, Washington can find someone to take some pressure off Terry McLaurin. Rashod Bateman was the top receiver on the team during Minnesota’s breakout 2019 season. He played sparingly in 2020, but still showed the physical attributes that catch scouts’ attention. He plays a bit like Michael Thomas, but it remains to be seen if he can truly reach that lofty standard.
20. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas It is unclear what the Bears’ plan forward is at the quarterback position, but much like Washington, this roster has other holes to fill. Samuel Cosmi would give the Bears a prospect to develop into a franchise tackle. He moves incredibly well for a player his size, which bodes well for his ability to handle the speed of NFL pass rushers. There is some room for improvement when it comes to his technique and footwork. He might struggle out of the gate, but he has the potential to be the best tackle in this class when all is said and done.
21. Philadelphia Eagles via Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida After taking a top-tier corner, the Eagles can find a new receiver to help turn this offense around. Jalen Hurts showed enough flashes to make the team believe in him as a long-term solution. Kadarius Toney is one of the best players in this draft at uncovering down field. That is a really useful skill in any offense, but especially when you have a quarterback that can extend the play with his legs. Toney was unguardable during Senior Bowl practices and looked the part of a No. 1 receiver. He still has some work to do in his route running and he had a couple of bad drops, but those don’t show up on his film.
22. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami Rejoice Titans fans. Tennessee has plenty of options to find a pass rusher in this situation. Jaelan Phillips fits the profile of a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has great speed off the edge and plenty of promise as a pass rusher. The biggest concern for me is how much he struggled at UCLA. He had a rash of injuries, including a concussion that caused him to retire from football. He instead opted to transfer to Miami and put together a great year. Is he a one-season wonder though and will he struggle to stay healthy in the NFL? Those are the questions that hold him back from going even earlier in this draft.
23. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks (2-14) – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan With Jaylen Waddle already on board, the Jets can turn their focus to the defense side of the ball. This franchise has needed a pass rusher for a long time. They struck out on players like Sheldon Richardson, Quinten Coples and Leonard Williams just to name a few. Kwity Paye could finally end the search. He is definitely raw, but he is one of the most athletically gifted players in this draft class. He would be a great fit to be a defensive end in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 system.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame Pittsburgh seems set to make another run with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. If that is going to work, this team needs an overhaul on the offensive line. Liam Eichenburg is one of the most pro ready linemen in this class. He lacks elite athleticism, which may end up with him starting on the right side of the line, but he would provide an instant upgrade at a huge position of need for the Steelers.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams (1-15) – Carlos Basham, DL, Wake Forest The interior of Jacksonville’s defense line is not what it used to be. With two exciting edge rushers already in place, the Jaguars need a disruptor on the interior. Carlos Basham is one of the most physically dominant defenders in this draft. He had a “down” year after racking up some impressive stats in 2019, but he was also double teamed on seemingly every play in 2020. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can still be a problem for opposing lineman when left one on one. He has the size to play defensive end in the team’s new 3-4 defensive scheme.
26. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Jeremiah Owusu Komaroah, LB, Notre Dame Browns fans love Jeremiah Owusu-Komaroah and for good reason. He is a rangy linebacker who at times looks like a safety dropped down into the box. He is a little bit undersized listed at just 215 lbs, but the NFL is trending more and more towards these hybrid type players. He could be an important chess piece in this Browns defense covering tight ends, spying quarterbacks and tracking running backs on passing downs.
27. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma There were way too many games this season where the Ravens offensive line struggled with execution. The biggest culprit for much of the year was Matt Skura. Creed Humphrey would bring a ton of stability to the position and has plenty of experience blocking for mobile quarterbacks. He feels like a great fit for Baltimore.
28. New Orleans Saints (12-4) –Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa What the Saints do here is largely going to depend on how the front office resolves its salary cap issues this offseason. The team is projected to be $70.7 million over the cap, according to Spotrac. As of right now, supplementing this defense feels like the way to go. Zaven Collins is an excellent cover linebacker with some pass rushing ability. He was a big part of Tulsa’s strong 2020 season. He has a ways to go when it comes to reading his keys, as he is sometimes a little too aggressive, but there is a lot to like about his game.
29. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State Buffalo had a great 2020 season and this roster is very close to being a Super Bowl contender. There are still a few holes though, notably at tight end. The combination of Dawson Knox, Lee Smith and Tyler Kroft is solid, but unspectacular. Pat Freiermuth offers an upgrade at the position and a well-rounded skill set. He is a reliable receiver over the middle and a willing blocker. He fits the mold of the prototypical inline tight end. Finding someone to occupy safeties and linebackers will only make life easier on the outside for Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley.
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC David Bahktiari will be back, but Green Bay should not count on his return solving all their offensive line woes. Billy Turner and Rick Wagner both struggled this season. Alijah Vera-Tucker could take over on the right side of the line to provide a bit more stability for Aaron Rodgers. He has also experience at guard, which only increases his value. Finding a versatile lineman who can start at multiple positions feels like a win for the Packers after watching how much they struggled to block during the NFC Championship game.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee When you make a large investment, you buy insurance. Think of Trey Smith as Patrick Mahomes insurance. Mahomes did run for almost 500 yards in the Super Bowl trying to avoid Buccaneers defenders. Smith spent time at both tackle and guard while at Tennessee. He also brings a ton of power to the position. He looked pretty sharp at the Senior Bowl and could be a Day 1 starter. With tons of experience and physical upside, this feels like a slam dunk for the Chiefs.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama There is a good chance that Tampa Bay will not retain Shaquille Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Chris Godwin, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Lavonte David this offseason. Restocking the front seven will be the priority and Christian Barmore will help soften the blow for any potential losses. He flashed his potential to be a game-changing player in the national championship game. His ceiling is enticing and he should be ready to contribute in some role right away.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia After giving up 8.1 yards per pass this season, the second-worst mark in the league, Jacksonville needs some new blood in its secondary. Eric Stokes has plenty of speed and above average size to the table. After trading away Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, the Jaguars need to reinvest at the position.
34. New York Jets (2-14) – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama I know running backs are a luxury pick, but with a receiver and a pass rusher already on board and Stokes coming off the board, passing on Najee Harris is hard to do. Harris is a complete back. He lacks top end speed, but has impressive agility, patience and power. Don’t sleep on his ability as a receiver either. New York is in desperate need of a new running back. This offseason is all about taking pressure off Sam Darnold. Drafting Harris would do that.
35. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami With Dean Pees taking over as defensive coordinator, he has said the Falcons are going to run multiple fronts. Quincy Roche feels like a good fit for that type of versatile front. He played as a 4-3 end at Miami, but he has the build and speed to be a standup outside linebacker in a 3-4. Either way, he will be a much-needed pass rushing presence on this Atlanta defense.
36. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (10-6) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson Miami misses out on completing the 2019 Alabama backfield, but Travis Etienne is about as good of a consolation prize as you could ask for. Etienne showed solid development as a pass catch over his final two seasons. He is a home run hitter, using incredible speed and elusiveness to break off big plays. My biggest concern is his vision. He misses the hole on occasion, but that is something that can be ironed out with some good coaching. Either way, he and DeVonta Smith would make this offense infinitely more explosive.
37. Indianapolis Colts via Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State Trading for a potential franchise quarterback and still finding a solid offensive tackle prospect is a solid draft for the Colts. Carson Wentz is going to need some protecting, especially with Anthony Costanzo retiring. Dillon Radunz has the size and length to become a franchise left tackle. He needs to add a bit to his frame and get up to the NFL speed, but he held his own at the Senior Bowl, which bodes well. I believe in his long-term potential as an NFL starter.
38. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU It’s not Ja’Marr Chase, but Joe Burrow had a pretty good connection with Terrace Marshall in college as well. Tee Higgins had a strong rookie season, but with A.J. Green likely leaving, Cincinnati could use another receiver on the outside. Marshall, at 6’3″, brings plenty of size and playmaking ability to an offense that should continue to be exciting.
39. Cincinnati Bengals via Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa Cincinnati continues to build in the trenches. With Carlos Dunlap gone and Geno Atkins turning 33, this team needs an infusion of young talent on the defensive line. Daviyon Nixon flashed the potential to be a difference maker this year at Iowa. He registered 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in a stellar junior season. He could create a nice tandem in the middle with 2020 free agent signing D.J. Reader, who should be back from injury.
40. Denver Broncos (6-10) – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama If Denver is serious about seeing what it has in Drew Lock, it needs to surround him with the right supporting cast to help succeed. That starts up front with the offensive line. Lock struggled with injuries in part because he kept getting hit. Dillon Radunz could start on the right side of the line across from Garrett Bolles or eventually replace Bolles if he regresses from a breakout 2020 season. Radunz also showed at the Senior Bowl that he has the strength to kick inside and play guard.
41. Detroit Lions (6-10) – Jabril Cox, LB, LSU The Lions’ rebuild continues by grabbing an athletic linebacker. Jabril Cox has the ability to step out into the slot and be a true middle linebacker for this defense. His range, experience and leadership make him a great value in the second round. Don’t overthink making this team LSU north.
42. New York Giants (6-10) – Nico Collins, WR, Michigan The Giants were the second-worst red zone team in the league in 2020. Only the Jets had a worse rate at converting red zone appearances to touchdowns than the Giants. Nico Collins won’t solve all of that, but at 6’4″ with an impressive catch radius, he should provide a big-body target for Daniel Jones to work with. His role will not be limited to that either. Collins showed at the Senior Bowl that he can work open over the middle as well. He would provide New York with some much needed size on the outside.
43. New York Jets via San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Spencer Brown, OT, UNI One year after selecting mountain man Mekhi Becton, why not continue the trend by drafting the 6’8″ Spencer Brown. He might not be a very recognizable name after playing his college ball at Northern Iowa, but he looked the part of a future franchise tackle at the Senior Bowl. He still has some room to add some muscle to his frame.
44. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas After nabbing a potential lockdown corner, Dallas can get its hands on another edge rusher to continue to reshape their defense. Joseph Ossai stepped out of his typical linebacker role and played more on the edge in 2020. The results were impressive as he racked up 15.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
45. Jacksonville Jaguars via Minnesota Vikings (1-15) – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami Jacksonville is in desperate need of an upgrade at tight end. With a solid group of wide receivers, Brevin Jordan would add another reliable pass-catching option to the roster for Trevor Lawrence to work with. He is a problem in the open field and does a lot of the little things right to get himself open.
46. New England Patriots (7-9) – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss Slot receiver probably isn’t New England’s biggest need, but this team is just interested in finding playmakers at this point. Moore is never going to fit that X receiver role on the outside, standing just 5’9″, but he is difficult to cover in open space. He has good quickness and a clear understanding for how to set up defensive backs and safeties with his route running. Whoever is at quarterback next year will benefit from his playmaking ability.
47. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford Los Angeles is hurting at cornerback. They have been getting by with an aging collection of veterans up to this point. Pauslon Adebo is a long corner with a solid track record for intercepting passes. At 6’1″, he should have no problem lining up on the outside and contending with the top receivers in the NFL. He is not the fastest, but he uses his physicality to make up for it.
48. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Jay Tufele, DL, USC After watching the Raiders get torched by opposing teams in the second half of the season, it is clear the front office needs to continue investing on the defensive side of the ball. Jay Tufele has tons of potential, and if Las Vegas can help him unlock it, this will be a steal. He flashed his upside in two seasons for USC before opting out. He brings the optimal size needed to contend at the position and fills a clear need on this defense.
49. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon After selecting Isaiah Simmons last year, I don’t think Arizona will shy away from Jevon Holland. He is a hybrid safety and corner. If the Cardinals want to continue to play position-less football, Holland would be a logical fit. He would bring some playmaking ability to the defensive backfield with nine interceptions in two seasons at Oregon.
50. Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia Miami has already hit on a number of needs up to this point and now can afford to grab a high-motor pass rusher who holds his own against the run. Azeez Ojulari is a physically dominant player, but he has shown effort, craftiness and a high IQ when it comes to beating blocks. In this situation, he would get a year to develop before likely taking over for Kyle Van Noy in 2022.
51. Washington (7-9) – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan Washington needs to revamp its offensive line. They are a year removed from trading away Trent Williams, and Brandon Scherff is a free agent. Jalen Mayfield spent his career at Michigan playing right tackle, but he has the length and athleticism to develop into a starter on the left side. Either way, this gives Washington a high-upside option.
52. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh Akiem Hicks is heading into the final season of his contract and could be a potential cap casualty for Chicago. Jaylen Twyman could help fill the void if Hicks is let go. He opted out of the 2020 season, but he was a difference maker on a dynamic Pittsburgh defense in 2019. With 12.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks, he has shown the ability to be a reliable pass rusher on the interior.
53. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC There is no doubt Tennessee needs some help in the middle of its defense. After selecting Jaelan Phillips in the first, tabbing Chazz Surratt to take over for pending free agent Jayon Brown could be a wise move. Surratt is still learning the position after starting his career at UNC as a quarterback. Through two seasons though, he has shown great instinct and athleticism that should allow him to develop even further at the NFL level.
54. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington With Justin Houston headed for free agency, Indianapolis will be in search of a new defensive end. Joe Tryon would be a great fit for this defense. He brings fantastic play strength and the length needed to be a 4-3 defensive end. Slot him into this defense and reap the rewards.
55. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Cade Mays, G, Tennessee Continue to overhaul this offensive line. It’s not a bad plan, whether this is setting up Ben Roethlisberger for one last run or laying the foundation for the future. Cade Mays can slot into either guard slot and start right away. He also has experience playing at tackle from early in his college career. This is a smart investment for Pittsburgh.
56. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh Seattle desperately needs to find some pass rushers. Patrick Jones excelled at getting after the quarterback in college. He racked up 21.5 sacks in his career at Pittsburgh. He did not have the best Senior Bowl week, but there is still enough talent there to work with. Expect him to contribute right away on third down.
57. Los Angeles Rams (10-6) – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama Los Angeles made a major gamble to bring in Matthew Stafford. Now they need to ensure he has the right players around him to succeed. With him not being a particularly mobile quarterback, providing a solid offensive line is essential. Landon Dickson suffered a serious injury to end his college career a bit early, but if he recovers in time to begin next season, he could be the Rams center on opening day. He looked dominant at times for Alabama and would replace Austin Blythe, who is headed to free agency.
58. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue After investing in their offensive line, Baltimore can tab another playmaker for Lamar Jackson to work with. Rondale Moore has struggled each of the past two seasons with injuries, so his medicals are going to play a huge role in where he gets drafted. When healthy though, he is a dynamic playmaker in the open field with incredible run after the catch ability.
59. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU Cleveland’s secondary has been decimated by injuries in recent years. Finding a way to bring in new starters and create more depth is going to be a huge priority this offseason. Trevon Moehrig is a solid contributor and an all-around safety. While he does not possess a ton of elite traits, he is a well rounded prospect with the ability to contribute right away.
60. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – Richie Grant, S, UCF Marcus Williams is a pending free agent and Malcolm Jenkins will likely be gone after 2021 for cap purposes. The team would be wise to invest in the position now before the proverbial cupboard is bare. Richie Grant showed great ball skills at the Senior Bowl and has some solid tape to back up his play. If Williams does not return, he could be starting for this defense as early as next year.
61. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia Buffalo needs to find a long-term solution at cornerback across from Tre’Davious White. Tyson Campbell would be a really nice complement to White given his size. He has a ton of high-level experience coming out of the pass-happy SEC. This becomes even more of a need if Josh Norman is not back in 2021.
62. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson The Packers are stocked with big-body perimeter receivers with the ability to stretch the field. Amari Rodgers would give them an offensive weapon who can take short passes and turn them into big plays. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can be dangerous in space and backs that up on film. It’s hard to be mad about a potential Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection.
63. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina Shi Smith had a good season in his chance to star for South Carolina. He showed a good ability to create separation at the Senior Bowl as well. With Sammy Watkins likely gone, Smith could step in as a reliable possession receiver for this team.
64. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh Shaquille Barrett is headed for free agency again. Jason Pierre-Paul could be a cap casualty as the Bucs look for space to re-sign him and some other players. Grabbing a potential replacement in the draft would be a lot more cost effective. Rashad Weaver had a great senior season after returning from a torn ACL. He looked sharp at the Senior Bowl as well, showing impressive play strength in one-on-one and team drills.
65. Jacksonville Jaguars – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State It’s time for the Jaguars to find some competition for Cam Robinson after a rough season. Teven Jenkins checks every box when it comes to size at the position. He needs some work when it comes to his technique, but the potential is there for him to be a starter.
66. New York Jets – Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern New York needs help on the outside and Robert Saleh’s defensive system requires long corners. Greg Newsome brings that at 6’1″. He is physical and a willing tackler. I have more work to do on him. He could be gone well before this spot by April.
67. Houston Texans – Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State The Texans seem determined to hang onto Deshaun Watson. Unfortunately, this team needs a massive overhaul on both sides of the ball. Right now, taking the best player available is a good approach. Jayson Oweh is a bit raw, but he has some special physical traits.
68. Atlanta Falcons – Javonte Williams, RB, UNC The Todd Gurley experiment did not work out. Atlanta needs to find someone to help resuscitate this ground game. Javonte Williams brings a ton of power to the position and showed he can be an explosive playmaker at UNC this year. He has feature back potential even if he lacks elite top end speed.
69. Cincinnati Bengals – Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh Cincinnati does not have the biggest need at center, but Jimmy Morrissey showed at the Senior Bowl he is capable of playing guard as well. Finding building blocks to completely turn this offensive line around is vital.
70. Philadelphia Eagles – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse Philly’s secondary was one of the worst in the league. Finding an upgrade in the secondary would be great, especially in the third round. Andre Cisco has plenty of range and playmaking ability. His 13 career interceptions underline his ball-hawking tendencies. Pairing him with Patrick Surtain greatly increases this unit’s ability in coverage.
71. Denver Broncos – Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State The interior of this defensive line has deteriorated in recent years. Marvin Wilson did not have the senior season he would have hoped for. Even with his draft stock falling, there is still talent there. If he can reclaim his 2019 form, this would be a steal for the Broncos.
72. Detroit Lions – Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson For Lions fans would maybe haven’t watched too many games featuring Jared Goff, he is a statue. He needs to be protected. Jackson Carman has plenty of experience having protected Trevor Lawrence’s blindside for the past two seasons. He has fantastic size, but has a bit of a ways to go before he is ready to be a starter in the NFL.
73. Carolina Panthers – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri Luke Keuchley is not coming back and Carolina needs to find someone to anchor the middle of their defense. Nick Bolton might just be up for the task. He was a huge part of Missouri’s defensive resurgence this season.
74. Washington via San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida The future at quarterback is pretty murky for Washington right now. They would need to make a pretty serious offer to trade up to get one of the top quarterbacks in this draft. Washington has more needs than just at quarterback, so waiting for Kyle Trask to fall is not a bad plan. Trask had a great season at Florida, but his physical limitations could keep him out of the first two rounds. He reminds me a bit of Kirk Cousins. Take that for what you will.
75. Dallas Cowboys – Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia Reminder, the Cowboys gave up the most points in franchise history in 2020. I don’t know if they should go full 2020 Panthers draft strategy, but they should not shy away from drafting defense early and often. Richard LeCounte will have a few medical questions to answer after missing much of the late stages of the season. If he can answer them, he will likely move up at least a few spots.
76. New York Giants – Nolan Laufenberg, G, Air Force Dave Gettleman loves his Hog Mollies. Nolan Laufenberg is a 6’3″, 315 lbs people mover. He comes out of a run heavy system at Air Force. Let’s just say Saquon Barkley will not be mad about having Laufenberg blocking for him next season.
77. Los Angeles Chargers – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State Mike Williams is a pending free agent and Justin Herbert needs some more targets to work with. Tylan Waddle had a fantastic senior season in Stillwater. His biggest drawback is creating separation. Even without a ton of agility, he still finds ways to make plays.
78. Minnesota Vikings – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State Minnesota has invested a lot at the cornerback position, but those investments have yet to pay off. Asante Samuel Jr. has the potential to be a useful piece in that secondary. I don’t know if he will ever develop into a true lockdown player on the outside, but there is no question he can carve out a role.
79. Arizona Cardinals – Michael Carter, RB, UNC Arizona has a few running backs of intrigue on the roster, but with Kenyan Drake headed to free agency, Michael Carter could become an integral part of this backfield. He has the speed to break off some big plays, but he is much more than just a third-down back.
80. Las Vegas Raiders – Walker Little, OT, Stanford The Raiders offensive line is in need of some depth and a few players to challenge for starting spots. Walker Little does not project well as a Day 1 starter, but he has the length and agility to be a future starter. He has some clear areas of improvement when it comes to hand usage and pass blocking, but he has some physical traits to work with.
81. Minnesota Vikings via Miami Dolphins – Levi Onwuzurike, DL, Washington With the pick they acquired from the Dolphins, the Vikings can build some depth along their defensive line. Levi Onwuzurike has a chance to challenge for a starting spot and would be a solid fit in a 4-3 front.
82. Washington – Israel Mukuamu, DB, South Carolina Washington can build depth at both safety and corner with this move. Israel Mukuamu is a massive player at 6’4″ and has experience at both cornerback and safety. His length makes him a potential eraser of tight ends and taller receivers.
83. Chicago Bears – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC Allen Robinson likely isn’t coming back. Even if he does, finding another receiver makes sense for this offense. Amon-Ra St. Brown was Kedon Slovis’ favorite this year and put up some big numbers. He and Darnell Mooney would give the Bears an exciting playmaking tandem.
84. Philadelphia Eagles via Indianapolis Colts – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama It was a rough season for Dylan Moses. Once considered a potential top-15 pick, Moses struggled in his return from a torn ACL. If he can regain his form prior to the injury, he has sideline-to-sideline potential. Philly should be willing to gamble on that in the third round.
85. Tennessee Titans – James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati Tennessee’s investment in Isaiah Wilson might yet pay off, but that shouldn’t stop the Titans from adding to tis line. James Hudson is a bit raw, but he has tremendous upside. There is a chance he could take over at right tackle and Wilson could kick inside.
86. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks – Jonathan Cooper, EDGE, Ohio State Even after drafting Kwity Paye, the Jets still could use some pass rushing help. Jonathan Cooper had a great Senior Bowl week. He found himself in the opponent’s backfield during a lot of team drills. The 49ers found a ton of success with a dominant defensive line. Cooper is not at the same level of Nick Bosa and company, but he would help turn the unit into a strength in New York.
87. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma When I think of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I think of smash mouth football. That is something this often would benefit from getting back to. After grabbing a pair of lineman, the Steelers can find a bruising running back to take over in their backfield. Rhamondre Stevenson has limited as a pass catcher, but his talent as a runner is undeniable.
88. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams – Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU With Detroit staring down a rebuild, they can afford to take a swing on a high-upside defensive lineman. Tyler Shelvin had some hype coming into the season because of the dominant physical play he flashed in limited playing time in 2019. He opted out for 2020 and did not get a chance to build on those traits. I am going to have to revisit his 2019 tape again, but with so little production, his NFL outlook is all projection right now.
89. Cleveland Browns – Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State Cleveland’s secondary was ravaged by injuries in 2020. Finding a player with some versatility and experience in multiple positions would be invaluable to this unit. Shaun Wade struggled a lot playing outside corner this season, but he looked promising at safety. He also has a solid year of film in the slot from 2019. He could line up in a couple of places for the Browns next year.
90. Minnesota Vikings via Baltimore Ravens – D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan Minnesota already has one home run hitter in Justin Jefferson. That shouldn’t stop them from adding another. D’Wayne Eskridge does a lot of his damage from the slot, but he drew rave reviews at the Senior Bowl for his ability to get open downfield. If Kirk Cousins fails with additional talent at receiver and revamped offensive line, he will be gone in 2022.
91. Cleveland Browns via New Orleans Saints – Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma The Browns have needed someone across from Myles Garrett for the past few years. Ronnie Perkins likely doesn’t fill that role right away, but he should provide some crucial depth. Expect him to be a solid role player right out of the gate as well.
92. Green Bay Packers – Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson Green Bay has one of the better secondaries in the league with Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. Unfortunately, they are still lacking depth at corner. Derion Kendrick has a ton of big-game experience. He likely won’t be a lockdown corner, but he could develop into a potential starter across from Alexander.
93. Buffalo Bills – Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State Jon Feliciano and Darryl Williams are free agents this year. Even if the Bills bring them both back, building some depth and finding a potential future starter would be smart at this stage. Thayer Munford is an athlete still figuring out the finer points of the tackle position. He could take over for Williams in a year or two on the right side of this Bills line.
94. Kansas City Chiefs – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah It was a rough game for the Chiefs across the board, but they really struggled to contain Tampa’s short passing game and had no answer for the run. Rob Gronkowski feasted and Leonard Fournette was actually the team’s second-leading receiver. Devin Lloyd is a dynamic player with a clear history of making disruptive plays for Utah. He had 21 tackles for loss in 19 games over the past two seasons. He lacks elite physical traits, but he could be a solid role player for this Chiefs defense.
95. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis Ronald Jones has shown he can shoulder a significant load, but he still needs some help. Leonard Fournette likely won’t be back, so Kenneth Gainwell could step in and fill that secondary back role. As we saw in the Super Bowl and throughout Tom Brady’s time with the Patriots, this offense likes to have multiple running backs at its disposal.
96. New England Patriots – Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State Shaka Toney feels like a New England Patriots player. Not the most physically gifted player ever, Toney is reliable on the edge and has the potential to be a meaningful contributor on this defense from Day 1. His size could have him as a 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker, which fits well into the Patriots multiple fronts scheme.
97. Los Angeles Chargers – Drake Jackson, C, Kentucky Maybe Mike Pouncey is back in 2021, maybe he isn’t. Either way, the Chargers should be thinking about the future of the position. Drake Jackson had a good Senior Bowl week and should compete for the starting job right away. Protecting Justin Herbert is going to be a big focus this offseason.
98. New Orleans Saints – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest New Orleans needs a receiver who can consistently stretch the field. Sage Surratt was much higher on my board prior to the Senior Bowl, but he still has some phenomenal 2019 tape to fall back on. He is a specialist at making contested catches downfield. Whoever is playing quarterback next season would benefit from that skill set.
99. Dallas Cowboys – Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota Tyron Smith still has a few good years left in him, but as Dallas learned in 2020, it is good to have both a backup and a succession plan along the offensive line. Daniel Faalele needs a lot of refining, but he is listed at 6’9″ and 400 lbs! That type of size is rare and any offensive line coach would be happy to work with those intangibles.
100. Tennessee Titans – Demetric Felton, RB/WR, UCLA With Corey Davis headed for free agency, the Titans could be in the market for some help at receiver. Demetric Felton is not your typical receiver, having just made the transition to the position from running back at the Senior Bowl. He looked sharp though with his route running and ability to generate separation. He could be a useful part of this offense and will allow new offensive coordinator Todd Downing to get creative.
101. San Francisco 49ers – Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota San Francisco loves to draft long, physical corners. Benjamin St-Juste definitely fits that description. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can use his 6’3″ frame well to jam opposing receivers and play in tight coverage. He would provide some much-needed depth right away.
102. Baltimore Ravens – Hamilcar Rashed Jr., EDGE, Oregon State If Matthew Judon does not re-sign, the Ravens could be looking for edge help much earlier than this. As it stands, adding a productive edge rusher like Hamilcar Rashed Jr. should give this defense an immediate boost. He had an incredible 2019 season with 22 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. His 2020 numbers are worrisome, but it is clear he has the potential to generate pressure.
103. Los Angeles Rams – Elijah Molden, CB, Washington Troy Hill could be gone and the Rams need to think about finding a replacement for him. Elijah Molden had a respectable career at Washington and a solid week at the Senior Bowl. He does not really wow you with his physical traits, but he is a steady contributor.
104. New Orleans Saints – Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State This Saints secondary could be headed for a major overhaul. Adding Chase Lucas to the mix with the already drafted Richie Grant would make a ton of sense. Lucas has some room to add to his frame, but he learned the position well from a former NFL defensive back in Herm Edwards over the past three seasons.
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The 2020 college football season has come to a close with the Alabama Crimson Tide once again on top of the college football world. Bama won an exciting, albeit lopsided, national championship game over Ohio State as Nick Saban claimed his seventh title.
As you might expect, this mock is going to feature a lot of soon-to-be former Tide players and a few Buckeyes as well. I have six Alabama players coming off the board in the first round, including quarterback Mac Jones.
Speaking of quarterbacks, there are six that I could see drafted in the first two rounds at this point. There is still a ton of assessing to be done with the Senior Bowl coming up, hopefully, followed by the NFL scouting combine.
There are two trades that occur in the first round of this mock, both involving quarterbacks.
Cincinnati trades 1.5 and 5.133 to San Francisco for 1.12, 2.43 and a 2022 first-round pick Detroit trades 1.7 to New England for 1.15, 2.46 and 2022 first-round pick
The draft order is according to Tankathon and updated through the wildcard weekend. Time to dive in!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson I know there is some buzz about Urban Meyer landing with the Jaguars and taking Justin Fields. I don’t buy it. Trevor Lawrence is one of the best quarterback prospects of all time. His poise, athleticism and arm strength make him a Day 1 starter. He would give Jacksonville it’s most exciting quarterback situation in franchise history.
2. New York Jets (2-14) – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU This comes down to Justin Fields vs. Zach Wilson. It’s going to be close. As of right now, I give the edge to Wilson. He has incredible zip on his throws and a lightning quick release. Wilson is a proven runner as well. He will need to take care of his body at the next level, but he looks the part of an NFL quarterback. It is no secret he works hard either. The Jets would find a potential new leader for their offense.
3. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (10-6) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon There is some buzz about the Dolphins trading this pick back to the Texans in a deal for Deshaun Watson. If that is on the table, Miami should pull the trigger. Otherwise, this team should stand pat and protect Tua. There are plenty of other receivers to take later in this draft. There are not many offensive tackles like Penei Sewell though. He is a polished pass blocker with good functional athleticism and plenty of play strength. He sat out the 2020 season, but he will remind everyone at the combine (assuming it happens) just how talented he is.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama While some will advocate for a quarterback here, Matt Ryan likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon because of his contract. Instead, the Falcons take a talented player at a huge position of need. Drafting Patrick Surtain II gives Atlanta a tandem of young corners to build the defense around. Surtain has great ball skills and an NFL pedigree. Not to mention he brings plenty of big-game experience coming out of Alabama. This defense allowed the most passing yards per game in 2020. Don’t overthink it. Grab a top-end corner and move forward.
5. San Francisco 49ers via Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State With two of the top four quarterbacks still on the board and Penei Sewell already gone, phones in Cincinnati would be lighting up! The Bengals move down, allowing the 49ers to find their quarterback of the future. Cutting Jimmy Garoppolo saves a ton of cap space. Justin Fields’ ceiling is higher than that of Garoppolo’s too. Fields brings a ton of intangibles to the table with his arm strength and speed. He definitely needs to improve some of his decision making and work on consistently hitting his release. Working with Kyle Shanahan would be a great way to help him reach his full potential.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU If Patrick Surtain was still here, that would have been the pick. However, it is hard to be mad about landing the top receiver in the class. Ja’Marr Chase is a matchup nightmare with a great blend of size and speed. He dominated the SEC in 2019 before opting out in 2020. He would give whomever the Eagles decide to start at quarterback a clear No. 1 receiver. Philly has been looking to fill that void for a long time.
7. New England Patriots via Detroit Lions (5-11) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State Detroit has a ton of holes to fill and a new general manager coming in. I think we could see them trade down come April. The Patriots jump up to find a succession plan to Tom Brady, probably a few years too late. Trey Lance is a bit more raw than the other top quarterback prospects, but he has some special physical tools. If he gets a year to get up to speed in the NFL and improve his deep accuracy, he could be a long-term solution at quarterback for years to come. With his effortless arm strength and impressive mobility, the sky is the limit for Lance.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State Sometimes, things just fall into place perfectly. Carolina needs a new linebacker to roam the field and match wits with opposing quarterbacks. Micah Parsons could step in from Day 1 and provide a huge boost to an exciting young defense. He has the prototypical size teams want for modern day linebackers with some added pass rushing potential. Parsons won’t be Luke Keuchley, but he is probably the team’s best option to attempt to fill the void he left when he retired.
9. Denver Broncos (5-11) – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami I’m not forgetting about Bradley Chubb or Von Miller, with the latter hopefully coming back from injury at full strength in 2021. Gregorey Rousseau has the potential to take over at one of the defensive end spots though while Miller and Chubb play on the outside. Rousseau is huge at 6’7″ with room to add some muscle to that frame. He looks most comfortable rushing the passer from the interior in the limited tape I’ve watched so far of him at Miami. Denver needs a jolt in its front three. Rousseau has the potential to become a cornerstone player on this defense.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech When you allow the most points in franchise history and fire your defensive coordinator after one season, it’s probably a good sign that you need to add some talent to your defense. Caleb Farley is a big, physical corner who can command a spot on the outside for this Cowboys defense. After sitting out the 2020 season, he will get a chance to solidify his draft stock at the combine. Dallas desperately missed Byron Jones this year. While Farley is not a like-for-like fit, he can help fill the void and create an exciting young tandem with Trevon Diggs.
11. New York Giants (6-10) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama If you want to rank the Alabama receivers over the past two years, Jaylen Waddle is second on my list behind Jerry Jeudy. Yes, I would take him over DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs. While Smith, deservedly, won the Heisman, Waddle was in the conversation this year before he got hurt. He was the go-to player in the offense, amassing 557 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his four games before the injury. Waddle is electric in the open field. I like how he projects to the next level just a bit more than Smith. If the Giants are determined to see Daniel Jones succeed, finding a playmaker like Waddle will make a huge difference.
12. Cincinnati Bengals via San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech Slide down seven spots and land an offensive line prospect with tons of potential? Sign every Bengals fan in the world up for that. Probably sign Joe Burrow up for that too. Christian Darrisaw has a bit of developing still to do, but he looks very comfortable playing on the left side of the line. His size and athleticism point to tons of untapped potential. He has room to improve in his footwork and technique, but those are coachable aspects of the game.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas Protecting Justin Herbert should be the top priority for the Chargers this offseason. For a team that seems to be growing into a potential championship window with a rookie quarterback, finding a franchise tackle to grow with it would be a great fit. Samuel Cosmi’s ceiling might be the highest of any offensive tackle in this draft. At 6’7″, 309 lbs, Cosmi is huge, but he moves like a much smaller man. He looks comfortable pulling, blocking in space and anchoring down on the quarterback’s blind side. He is extremely raw and will need some good coaching to perfect his technique, hand usage and footwork to reach his potential. In two years though, he could be one of the top five tackles in the league. There is some risk though that he ends up being a guard if he cannot develop.
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina Mike Zimmer called this the worst defense he has ever had. Let’s assume they will look to rebuild it then during the 2021 offseason. Jaycee Horn has lockdown corner potential. He is an elite man-to-man corner. South Carolina moved him all over the formation, allowing him to gain some experience in the slot, blitzing off the edge, playing off coverage and playing zone. He should upgrade the secondary right away. This does not mean Minnesota is bailing on Jeff Gladney after a rough rookie season. Adding Horn just creates more depth and potential for a turnaround next season.
15. Detroit Lions via New England Patriots (7-9) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama Cue the “did you even watch the national championship game?” reactions. DeVonta Smith has been the best offensive player in college football this season. The combination of speed, route running and catch radius makes him lethal. Opposing defenses have had no answer. The main concerns are about his size. He has a very slight frame at 175 lbs, which begs questions about his ability to survive in the NFL. He will also face some major better defenses at the next level. After trading down, the Lions can invest in either a replacement for Kenny Golladay or someone to line up across from him in the future.
16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida This has become one of my favorite prospect-team pairings in these early mock drafts. Kyle Pitts would thrive in the Cardinals offense. It would hide a number of his shortcomings as a blocker by allowing him to flex out and make plays in space. He would give Kyler Murray a great target over the middle of the field and in the red zone and open up more opportunities for DeAndre Hopkins. The drop off from Hopkins to the next-best receiving option in this offense is steep. Pitts would bridge the gap.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama Las Vegas’ defense was not what many had hoped for after some signs of progress in 2019. The pass rush regressed and the secondary struggled. Enter Christian Barmore. Fresh off a dominant national championship game, he showcased his talent and potential heading into a potential NFL career. His ability as an interior pass rusher would fill a huge need for the Raiders.
18. Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia Still not a receiver. I will get there, I promise Dolphins fans. Miami got solid production out of Andrew Van Ginkel and Kyle Van Noy, but neither one is irreplaceable. Azeez Ojulari is a polished pass rusher with an array of moves at his disposal to beat opposing offensive tackles. He would provide the Dolphins with a situational rusher who can develop into a long-term starter at outside linebacker in Brian Flores’ defense.
19. Washington Football Team (7-9) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama Taylor Heinicke and Alex Smith are both great stories, but neither projects as the long-term answer at quarterback for Washington. Mac Jones went from being Tua’s backup to the Davey O’Brien winner and Heisman finalist. He is incredibly accurate, looks comfortable in the pocket and has great touch on his deep ball. He might not be as athletic as the four quarterbacks who went before him, but he can use his legs to extend plays while keeping his eyes downfield. He benefited from a great supporting cast, but he deserves some credit for Alabama’s success this year as well.
20. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota Allen Robinson seems headed for an exit this offseason. With Jones off the board, there are no quarterbacks worth taking here, so receiver becomes the next position of focus. Rashod Bateman has the size and playmaking skills to make Bears fans feel a little better about likely losing Robinson. He had a bit of an off 2020 season, opting out, then opting back in and opting out again after five games. He has the size to be a possession receiver, but flashes good run after the catch ability too. Expect whoever is Chicago’s quarterback in 2021 to benefit from having him in the offense.
21. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh The Colts defense was one of the best in the league this year against the run, but pretty average against the pass. The best way to disrupt an opponent’s passing attack is to generate pressure. Patrick Jones II excels in that department. He has 17.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He fits the mold of a 4-3 defensive end and would give the Colts a successor to Justin Houston, who turns 32 later this month. Jones is one of my favorite edge rushers in this class and I think this would be a great fit for him.
22. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa It took me a bit, but I think I have figured out my pro comp for Zaven Collins. Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Both are outside linebackers who can hang in pass coverage but make their biggest impact rushing the passer. Collins is a little bit heavier than Barr, but both fit similar size profiles as well. Tennessee desperately needs a playmaker like that. The Titans had just 19 sacks as a team this season. Collins had 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in eight games. He is the type of disruptive force this defense is lacking.
23. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks (2-14) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State After grabbing Zach Wilson, protecting him needs to be the priority. Wyatt Davis is the best interior lineman in this class. He has great size and lots of experience after starting for the past two years. He would provide a nice boost to the interior of this Jets offensive line and some much needed run blocking. Joe Douglas spent a lot on the offensive line in free agency without much success. Davis and Mekhi Becton would give the Jets two great building blocks to rely on as they reshape the unit.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama Did Pittsburgh throw it more than anyone else strictly by design or because they lost faith in the running game? Hard to know which is true, but either way, the Steelers cannot continue to rely on Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball 50+ times per game. That’s not sustainable. Najee Harris is the top running back in this class and could very well come off the board before this. He is physical, fast and consistent. His blend of quickness and power is pretty impressive. What makes him worthy of a first-round pick is his ability as a pass catcher. Harris caught 65 passes over the past two seasons. A 230-pound back who can get involved in the passing game? That is a special combination.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams (1-15) – Liam Eichenburg, OT, Notre Dame Cam Robinson did not have a great 2020 season and it is time that the Jaguars think about moving on from him at left tackle. Protecting Trevor Lawrence is going to be a big priority. Liam Eichenburg is one of the most pro ready tackles in this class. He is incredibly polished and technically sound. His upside is limited by a lack of speed, but he can be the anchor on the left side of the line.
26. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Jeremiah Owusu-Komaroah, LB, Notre Dame Cleveland’s postseason run is going to continue for a little bit longer, but it is clear where they could use some help on defense. With no clear secondary pick here, the Browns can grab a high-upside linebacker. Jeremiah Owusu-Komaroah is a fantastic cover player with sideline-to-sideline ability. Given the Browns struggles in pass coverage this season, this would be a useful addition to the defense.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan Tampa Bay is in win-now mode with Tom Brady, but they can afford to go with a raw, high-upside edge rusher as they continue to build depth on defense. Kwity Paye has all the physical tools you hope for in an edge rusher at 6’4″ and roughly 270 lbs. He didn’t produce much at Michigan with just 11.5 sacks in 28 career games. However, teams will be betting they can help unlock his potential and turn him into a physically dominant edge rusher.
28. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma Another prospect and team pairing that I really like, Baltimore’s offensive line has not been the dominant unit we have become accustomed to watching in recent years. Ronnie Stanley went down after just seven games. Matt Skura had issues snapping the ball at times this season. Plugging in a pro-ready option like Creed Humphrey at center would be a great move for Baltimore. Humphrey has plenty of experience blocking for mobile quarterbacks, playing with Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Blocking for Lamar Jackson should be a seamless transition.
29. New Orleans Saints (12-4) –Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC The Saints are in for a big offseason as the team figures out its direction after Drew Brees’ career ends. New Orleans has been searching for linebacking help for years now. Finding a high-character and dynamic leader like Chazz Surratt at the end of the first round would be a great addition. Surratt is a former quarterback who is still learning the position. However, he has thrived under Mack Brown over the past two seasons starting for UNC. He could take over for Demario Davis, who just turned 32, when he decides to retire.
30. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State Another great fit for both prospect and team here. Buffalo could use an upgrade at tight end. What makes this such a great fit is Pat Freiermuth’s ability as both a blocker and inline receiver. He is not the same type of receiving threat as someone like Kyle Pitts, but he is a well-rounded player that fills a huge need. Giving Josh Allen an elite tight end to work with is only going to elevate his game further.
31. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern There is a time and place to grab a receiver, but that is probably later in the draft. Green Bay has David Bahktiari locked up for a while, but he suffered a major injury and Bryan Bulaga left last offseason. Suddenly, this once stout offensive line is starting to deteriorate. Letting Rashawn Slater start his career at right tackle could be great for his development. He has a long way to go when it comes to hand usage and has some flaws in his pass blocking technique, but he shows flashes of being a punishing blocker. Investing in protecting Aaron Rodgers, or eventually Jordan Love, is a good plan.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee Kansas City has not looked quite as sharp over the final few weeks of the season. Part of that has been inconsistent offensive line play. Andrew Wylie has struggled and could be in danger of being replaced in 2021. Trey Smith is a physical specimen at 6’6″, 330 lbs. He started his career at tackle before kicking inside to guard. He played really well for Tennessee in 2020 and could be in line to start on Day 1. Worst-case scenario, he provides some crucial depth for the defending champs at either guard or tackle spot.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Carlos Basham Jr., DL, Wake Forest With two exciting edge rushers in Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, Jacksonville could use an upgrade along the inside of the defensive line. Carlos Basham Jr. is a bit of a tweener, playing snaps at defensive end and defensive tackle. That versatility would be valuable to a Jaguars defense that was one of the worst in football this past year.
34. New York Jets (2-14) – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas New York is in desperate need of some edge rushing help. Ranking in the bottom third in sacks for what feels like the 10th year in a row has to end at some point for the Jets to turn things around. Joseph Ossai is an intriguing prospect, having played more of an off-ball linebacker role prior to the 2020 season. However, he showed enough promise as an edge rusher for the Jets to add him here.
35. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami Atlanta continues its search for an edge rusher. After spending several premium picks and some cap space in recent years, this could be the end of the line. Jaelan Phillips flashed tons of speed and potential to produce at the NFL level in his one year at Miami. The Falcons would be banking on that being a sign of things to come and not a one season wonder.
36. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (10-6) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State Miami finally grabs the receiver fans have been waiting for. Chris Olave made a huge impact on this Ohio State offense this year. He has good size to compete for pass downfield and has shown flashes of high-level route runner. He might need to bulk up a little bit to survive in the NFL.
37. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse The direction of this Eagles defense is in flux with Doug Pederson fired and Jim Schwartz taking a year away from football. There is no question that the pass defense needs a boost though. Andre Cisco is a centerfield safety with great ball skills. He had 12 interceptions in his first two seasons before slogging through an injury-riddled 2020. He would help Philly deal with the big plays that plagued the secondary all season long.
38. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa Carlos Dunlap is gone. Geno Atkins turns 33 in March. Cincinnati could use an infusion of talent along the defensive line. Daviyon Nixon flashed enough upside that the Bengals would be happy to land him in the second round. He moves incredibly well at 305 pounds, but there is room for improvement when it comes to his technique. If he can get that final layer of polish, he could be a force along the interior of the defense.
39. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida Is Teddy Bridgewater the long-term answer at quarterback? It is unclear at this point. Matt Rhule would likely be excited to work with a polished passer like Kyle Trask. He has great accuracy and anticipation. However, he really lacks mobility and does not have the biggest arm. He could be a bit of a project behind Bridgewater.
40. Denver Broncos (6-10) – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama Alex Leatherwood has played every position along the offensive line, other than center, in his time at Alabama. In this scenario, I envision him potentially taking over at right tackle after not seeing Ja’Wuan James play much in the past two years. His ability to play left tackle is important too if Garrett Bolles regresses.
41. Detroit Lions (6-10) – Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington For a few years, Detroit has been searching for an edge rusher. Joe Tryon has above average play strength and a solid set of pass rushing moves. We didn’t get to see him in 2020 because he opted out, but he has room for improvement and the size to play as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker.
42. New York Giants (6-10) – Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami The Giants will be disappointed to see Tryon off the board, but Quincy Roche is a nice consolation prize. He did not put up the same eye-popping numbers he did during his time at Temple, but his one year in Miami was productive. New York’s defense made huge strides in 2020 under Patrick Graham, but needs some more pass rushing help to take the next step.
43. Cincinnati Bengals via San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC If the Bengals spent every pick in this draft on the offensive line, I don’t think anyone would fault them. That’s probably unnecessary, but investing another premium pick on an offensive lineman is smart roster building here. Alijah Vera-Tucker brings some experience at both guard and tackle. He is a developing player that should make Joe Burrow’s life better when he returns from injury.
44. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon Dallas’ defense is headed for something of a major rebuild. With a ton of question marks in the secondary, finding a player who can play in multiple roles carries a lot of value. Jevon Holland is disruptive and can line up at either safety spot or play in the slot. The Cowboys just need to find talented players to turn this defense around.
45. Jacksonville Jaguars via Minnesota Vikings (1-15) – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami Jacksonville is in desperate need of an upgrade at tight end. Brevin Jordan has not had the fanfare that Kyle Pitts and Pat Freiermuth have, but he plays the position well. He does a lot of the little things right and would give Trevor Lawrence a strong target across the middle.
46. Detroit Lions via New England Patriots (7-9) – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU The backend of Detroit’s defense needs a lot of work. Trevon Moehrig is a reliable safety option with plenty of range to make plays. He was one of the best players on a solid TCU defense. His biggest area for improvement is keeping proper positioning. Moehrig got burned deep a few times in 2020.
47. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida The Chargers might not bring back Mike Williams. Even if they do, there is room for another playmaker on this squad. Kadarius Toney looked incredible as part of Florida’s offensive resurgence this season. He is dynamic in the open field and great at making plays with the ball in his hands. Toney could be uber productive playing with Justin Herbert.
48. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia Keep rebuilding this defense. The Raiders have swung and missed on a lot of corners in recent years, but Eric Stokes could help steady the unit a bit. He has impeccable speed and solid coverage skills. Stokes showed some signs of being a real difference maker with four interceptions in 2020. His stock could rise a lot if he posts a ridiculous time at the combine.
49. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State Marvin Wilson was a potential first-round selection a year ago, but did not have a great senior year after returning to Tallahassee. I think Wilson could bounce back with some better coaching. There was a lot of animosity at Florida State this offseason and it seemed like Wilson’s heart was not in it this year. If he can reclaim his 2019 form, this would be a steal for a Cardinals team in need of some help along the defensive line.
50. Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson I have Travis Etienne ranked at No. 14 on my big board, so don’t go thinking I hate Etienne. However, NFL teams are continuing to devalue this position to the point where only one running back was selected last year in the first round. This is a great fit for the Clemson running back, who would join an exciting offense. His big-play ability could easily see him go sooner than this.
51. Washington (7-9) – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest Assuming that Washington does opt for Mac Jones, they are going to need to give him some receivers other than Terry McLaurin to throw to. Sage Surratt sat out the 2020 season, but he was last seen torching secondaries in the ACC. He is a big-play threat with great size and ball skills.
52. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama We won’t get to see Landon Dickerson workout at the Senior Bowl or combine this year because he suffered a season-ending injury in the SEC title game. He made a brief cameo at the end of Alabama’s championship win, but he might not be ready for the upcoming season. Once he is back to full health though, he could be a steady starter for the Bears. This offense would look a lot better with an improved line and some additional playmakers.
53. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Jay Tufele, DL, USC This mostly projecting how Jay Tufele could develop as a prospect. He flashed some interior pass rushing ability in his first two seasons before opting out of the 2020 season. The Titans will take pass rushing help however they can get it at this point.
54. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU T.Y. Hilton had a strong second half and Michael Pittman Jr. showed flashes of his potential to be a No. 1 receiver, but Indy needs more receiving options. Parris Campbell has yet to make an impact and Zach Pascal is better off providing depth. Terrace Marshall got overshadowed by Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase last year, but he made some big plays for a much worse LSU offense this year.
55. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State Pittsburgh’s offensive line struggled a lot between injuries and poor play all season. Dillon Radunz is a bit of an unknown coming out of North Dakota State, but he has some great physical tools and dominated the FCS. He could compete for either tackle spot from Day 1.
56. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan There is no question the Seahawks need an edge rusher, but Russell Wilson also needs time to make plays. Saturday’s loss to the Rams should underline how much the offensive line needs an upgrade. Jalen Mayfield held down the right side of the line for Michigan. He should do the same thing for Seattle, replacing Brandon Shell.
57. Los Angeles Rams (10-6) – Cade Mays, OT, Tennessee Andrew Whitworth cannot play forever and Jared Goff is not mobile enough to compensate for a bad offensive line. Cade Mays, like his teammate Trey Smith, has featured mostly at guard, but has the size to play at tackle. He has played at every position at some point in his college career at Georgia and Tennessee. His versatility would be hugely valuable even if he does not start right away.
58. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh Building depth along the front seven is pretty much the only clear need this team has, pending any losses in free agency. Jalen Twyman was a disruptive force in 2019 for Pittsburgh. He racked up 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in a dominant season. He will need to measure in well at the combine to answer some questions about his size, but he could provide some pass rushing depth right away.
59. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC There is no question the Ravens need another receiver to add to this offense. Amon-Ra St. Brown has the agility and route tree to fit well as a possession receiver in this offense. He can get open in small spaces and has shown the ability to stretch the field as well.
60. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina I’m not totally sure where Israel Mukuamu fits at the next level. He has played both safety and outside corner in his time at South Carolina. He is huge at 6’4″ and shows flashes of being a lockdown corner. He is a step slow in the speed department, but his versatility would be extremely useful for a Browns secondary that has struggled to keep players healthy.
61. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue Ronadale Moore has looked like a human joystick when at full strength. That type of playmaking could be a huge boost to the Saints offense. It is not totally clear what this team will look like without Drew Brees, but New Orleans has needed a long-term solution across from Michael Thomas for a few years. Moore could be a top candidate if his medicals check out.
62. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Chris Rumph II, EDGE, Duke Buffalo’s defense took a step back in 2020 after a dominant 2019 season. The Bills can look to reclaim their 2019 form with a couple of fresh faces in the front seven. Chris Rumph II had a great career with Duke, posting 14.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss over his final two seasons.
63. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Seth Williams, WR, Auburn Seth Williams’ skill set is a bit more limited than some of the receivers that have gone before him, but what he does, he does very well. He has the size at 6’3″ to make plays down the field in traffic. Most importantly, he has good hands, which is something Green Bay desperately needs. The Packers had one of the highest drop percentages in the league this year.
64. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri Kansas City can stay close to home with this pick. Nick Bolton was a huge factor in Missouri’s surprising season. He was one of the leaders of the Mizzou defense and made some impact plays with eight tackles for loss this season. Bolton would compete for a starting spot on a defense in need of some improvement in the linebacking corp.
The unimaginable happened in Week 15. The Jets won a football game and this time they didn’t blow it in the final seconds either. Of course, there have been tons of jokes about New York not even being able to tank right, but I am happy to see the team avoid an 0-16 finish. I will talk more about that in the Jets’ section.
In other news, the Steelers inexplicably lost a third straight game, this time to the Bengals starting Ryan Finley at quarterback. Drew Brees looked like a man that has not played football in close to a month in his return from injury as the Saints lost their second straight game. Elsewhere, the Bears climbed back into the postseason picture and the NFC East continues to get more interesting. This is where I see each team following 15 weeks of action.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: 13-1 (Last Week: 1) Won32-29 at New Orleans Kansas City continues to weather the regular-season storm. New Orleans kept things close early, but Patrick Mahomes and company stepped up in the second half to close it out. Unfortunately, the Chiefs likely lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer. On the bright side, winning either of their final two games will lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
2. Green Bay Packers: 11-3 (Last Week: 2) Won 24-16 vs. Carolina It wasn’t the prettiest win the Packers have ever had, but they got the job done and extended their lead over the rest of the NFC. Aaron Jones rumbled for 145 yards and a touchdown in the win. Green Bay needs to play a bit more evenly after several offensive lulls in this contest. That won’t fly in the playoffs.
3. Buffalo Bills: 11-3 (Last Week: 3) Won 48-19 at Denver Buffalo beat the doors off Denver behind another masterful performance from Josh Allen. He got plenty of help with 149 yards from the duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. The Bills defense also continued its late-season resurgence with its second defensive touchdown in as many weeks. This version of the Bills is going to be really tough to beat in the playoffs.
4. New Orleans Saints: 10-4 (Last Week: 4) Lost 32-29 vs. Kansas City Drew Brees looked very rusty in his return from injury. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and threw a costly interception in the loss. It was not a great game from the Saints defense either, save a strip sack of Patrick Mahomes. Hopes of winning the NFC have pretty much vanished. New Orleans needs to right the ship over the next two weeks to build some momentum for the postseason.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-5 (Last Week: 7) Won 31-27 at Atlanta It was a slow start from the Buccaneers, but Tom Brady got the best of the Falcons when it mattered once again. He aired it out for 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offense certainly missed the presence of Ronald Jones. However, it is the defense that had the most concerning performance. Matt Ryan finished with over 350 yards and three touchdowns. After a strong start, the Bucs are 3-3 in their last six and could use a jolt heading into the final stretch.
6. Miami Dolphins: 9-5 (Last Week: 8) Won 22-12 vs. New England Miami officially put New England in its rearview mirror, at least for 2020. The Dolphins ended the Patriots’ 12-year postseason streak with a strong ground game and some stingy defense. It was another lackluster game from Tua Tagovailoa passing the ball, but he punched in two rushing touchdowns to earn the victory. With DeVante Parker and Myles Gaskin potentially returning soon, the offense should get a much-need jolt.
7. Seattle Seahawks: 10-4 (Last Week: 9) Won 20-15 at Washington The Seahawks ground out a crucial victory to reclaim the lead in the NFC West. Washington’s defense posed a number of issues, holding Russell Wilson to 121 yards passing and just one touchdown. Seattle’s defense pulled through with four sacks and a pair of interceptions. It was a gritty win, the type the Seahawks will likely need to pull off at least once in the postseason.
8. Baltimore Ravens: 9-5 (Last Week: 10) Won 40-14 vs. Jacksonville Lighting up the Jaguars is hardly difficult these days, but it is still promising to see this offense continuing to click. Lamar Jackson put together another big performance, this time through the air as well as on the ground. Defensively, Baltimore stuffed James Robinson. He managed just 2.2 yards per carry. Gardner Minshew might have had two touchdowns, but it was too late to matter. The Ravens were in control throughout this one.
9. Cleveland Browns: 10-4 (Last Week: 12) Won 20-6 at New York After weeks of taking a backseat, it was the Browns defense who got top billing in this one. Cleveland kept New York out of the end zone, limiting its scoring to a pair of field goals. The Browns played a lot of bend but don’t break possessions, allowing the Giants to drive into the red zone, but coming up with huge stops when Joe Judge decided to go for it on fourth down. There is still plenty of room for the defense to improve, but they deserve credit for how they handled this game.
10. Tennessee Titans: 10-4 (Last Week: 13) Won 46-25vs. Detroit Don’t look now, but the Titans are picking up steam. After getting shelled in the first half of its Week 13 game against Cleveland, Tennessee has outscored its opponents 105-41 over the past 10 quarters of play. Ryan Tannehill is spreading the ball around and Derrick Henry is tossing defenders across the field. If the Titans can rediscover their pass rush, this team could be poised for another deep postseason run.
11. Indianapolis Colts: 10-4 (Last Week: 11) Won 27-20 vs. Houston For the second time in three weeks, the Colts stymied the Texans at the goal line with a timely fumble recovery to preserve a victory. It was far from Indianapolis’ best defensive game as it gave up 373 passing yards to Deshaun Watson. However, it made the big play when it mattered and kept pace with the Titans in the AFC South.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-3 (Last Week: 5) Lost 27-17 at Cincinnati Now the sky is falling in Pittsburgh. This team has completely forgotten how to run its offense. Ben Roethlisberger is missing open receivers, players are not on the same page and these mistakes are putting the defense in impossible situations. All of Cincinnati’s first-half points came off turnovers. Mike Tomlin needs to get this team back to basics, and fast. The Steelers are in danger of blowing the division lead.
13. Los Angeles Rams: 9-5 (Last Week: 6) Lost 24-21 vs. New York I still don’t know what happened. If this was not the most embarrassing loss in franchise history, it has to be close to the top. New York was fresh off a 40-3 beatdown against Seattle. Los Angeles didn’t even have to travel! As has been the issue all season, the offense was out of rhythm and that cost the Rams a winnable game. L.A. is now facing a potential road playoff game.
14. Arizona Cardinals: 8-6 (Last Week: 14) Won 33-26 vs. Philadelphia In one of the most exciting games of the weekend, Kyler Murray outdueled the man who followed him at Oklahoma. The Cardinals’ defense made life difficult on Jalen Hurts though with six sacks, bringing their total over the past two weeks up to 14! On offense, it was one of Murray’s best games of his young NFL career. He finished with 406 passing yards and four total touchdowns. He has still not looked quite the same running the ball since he suffered that shoulder injury, but this was a big win for the Cardinals as they continue to fight for the NFC’s final wildcard spot.
15. Chicago Bears: 7-7 (Last Week 23) Won 33-27 at Minnesota After looking like they were dead in the water, the Bears have roared back into the playoff chase, sitting one game back of the Cardinals. Mitchell Trubisky continues to show signs of his 2018-level of play while David Montgomery is quietly having one of the best second halves of any running back in the league. This team seems to have found its footing at the right time.
16. Washington: 6-8 (Last Week: 15) Lost 20-15 vs. Seattle Washington holds onto its lead in the NFC East, but that cushion shrunk as the Cowboys are now just one game back in the division as well. Dwayne Haskins’ continued ball-security problems showed up again with two more interceptions. In a five-point game where the defense limits one of the best quarterbacks in the league to just 121 passing yards, those are back-breaking mistakes. Now, Haskins’ status for Week 16 is in doubt due to some off-the-field issues with Washington’s season hanging in the balance.
17. Dallas Cowboys: 5-9 (Last Week: 25) Won 41-33 vs. San Francisco Could the Cowboys really run the table? Dallas picked up another win, this time without Ezekiel Elliott. The defense is still one of the worst, if not the worst in the league, but it has been opportunistic. Two forced fumbles gave the offense a big boost. CeeDee Lamb’s return touchdown on the onsides kick sealed it. Dallas is winning the turnover battle and making plays on special teams. That is a recipe for success.
18. San Francisco 49ers: 5-9 (Last Week: 17) Lost 41-33 at Dallas Another tough loss for the short-handed 49ers eliminates them from postseason contention. No team has had to adapt more in 2020 than San Francisco, who is now playing home games in Arizona. This team is not going to need a rebuild as much as it needs a refresh and to get healthy. A new quarterback and a few extra pieces on defense could get the Niners back in Super Bowl contention.
19. Minnesota Vikings: 6-8 (Last Week: 18) Lost 33-27 vs. Chicago Minnesota’s playoff hopes took another massive blow. The defense could not slow down David Montgomery, who racked up 146 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Kirk Cousins played well enough, but once again, the Vikings came up short. They are still in contention for the final wildcard spot, but the path looks extremely unlikely at this stage.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-9-1 (Last Week: 24) Lost 33-26 at Arizona The Jalen Hurts show went on the road and nearly picked up a crucial win. Unfortunately, the offensive line fell apart and Hurts was sacked six times in the contest. Meanwhile, the Eagles stay alive in the division race with a Washington loss. Philly now needs to win out to reach the playoffs. With games against Washington and Dallas coming up, the NFC East is going to go down to the wire. Of every team in the division, the Eagles somehow seem to have the best quarterback situation all of a sudden.
21. New England Patriots: 6-8 (Last Week: 16) Lost 22-12 at Miami It is time for the Patriots to take a long look in the mirror. After years of lording over the NFL, New England has quickly sunk to mediocre. Now, the team will get reinforcements with players returning from opt outs in 2021, but this roster desperately needs to be turned over. It will start with figuring out a new direction at quarterback. Cam Newton continues to show he is not “the guy,” and it seems like the organization is not trusting Jarrett Stidham. A big offseason awaits the Pats.
22. New York Giants: 5-9 (Last Week: 19) Lost 20-6 at Cleveland Colt McCoy couldn’t work his magic to pull off another stunning upset. You have to give Joe Judge credit for playing to win and stay aggressive throughout the game. Unfortunately, this is a young Giants team struggling to compete with tons of injuries at key positions. Not to mention, the team lost a pair of coaches and their star corner this week before playing. New York’s postseason hopes look rather bleak though with a trip to Baltimore up next.
23. Carolina Panthers: 4-10 (Last Week: 22) Lost 24-16 at Green Bay Carolina did its best to slow down Aaron Rodgers. It forgot to plan for the other Aaron though. Aaron Jones gashed the Panthers defense for 145 yards and a score. This team is still rebuilding, which became even more evident on Monday when general manager Marty Hurney was fired. As the Panthers head for a top-five pick, it will be interesting to see if this team decides to take a young quarterback to take over, or will the front office build around Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina is an interesting team to watch this offseason.
24. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-7 (Last Week: 20) Lost 30-27 vs. Los Angeles Don’t let the record fool you, the Raiders are terrible right now. Las Vegas has now lost four of five, and the one game they did win in that stretch came on a Hail Mary against the Jets. It is clear that this defense is not talented enough to compete. The Raiders will need to invest some serious resources to rebuild it this offseason and potentially search for a new quarterback.
25. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-9 (Last Week: 28) Won 30-27 at Las Vegas Make that back-to-back wins for the Chargers, who continue to show grit following their 45-0 drubbing against the Patriots. Despite the improved play of late, Anthony Lynn’s job should still be under scrutiny. Los Angeles seems to have its quarterback of the future on the roster and a solid young group around him. The team’s leadership needs to be sure Lynn is who they want to head into the future with. This offseason would be the time to make the change if there are any doubts within that organization.
26. Houston Texans: 4-10 (Last Week: 26) Lost 27-20 at Indianapolis Another close divisional loss sinks the Texans lower and lower into the misery that is their future. This team has a few talented players and one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. However, it doesn’t have a permanent coach or general manager and has very little draft capital to rebuild a talent-deprived roster. It is a long road ahead for the Texans.
27. Denver Broncos: 5-9 (Last Week: 21) Lost 48-19 vs. Buffalo Drew Lock’s play of late is raising more questions than it answers. After a strong performance in Week 14, he regressed again, managing a pedestrian 4.1 yards per attempt as he finished with just 132 passing yards. That doesn’t even account for the strip sack returned for a Bills’ touchdown. Lock got very little help from his defense though, as Denver let Josh Allen do whatever he wanted to. While it might be tempting to tear it down and star over, there are a lot more holes on this roster.
28. Detroit Lions: 5-9 (Last Week: 27) Lost 46-25 at Tennessee Another week, another dismal defensive performance. Lions defenders are out here getting tossed around the field by Derrick Henry and letting Ryan Tannehill spout off for a nearly perfect day passing the ball. In yet another lost season for Detroit, this team is now officially back to square one. There are questions about Matt Stafford’s durability and the team is once again looking for a new coach. There is a reason why this franchise has not won a playoff game since 1991.
29. Atlanta Falcons: 4-10 (Last Week: 29) Lost 31-27 vs. Tampa Bay 2020 has been a really hard year for everyone for some really serious, real-world reasons. If you want to focus on sports though, no one has had it worst than fans in Atlanta. Between the Braves 3-1 collapse and the Falcons blowing at least one three-score lead per month, it has been brutal supporting the local teams. On the bright side, Matt Ryan looked much better. Unfortunately, the team is trending toward a top-five pick with more questions than it has answers.
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-10-1 (Last Week: 30) Won 27-17 vs. Pittsburgh Bengals fans rejoice! Your team knocked off the Steelers and kept your hold on the No. 3 pick in the draft! Cincinnati played its best defensive game of the year, frustrating Pittsburgh’s offense all night long. It was opportunistic and made some clutch plays to secure a very exciting victory. These final few games will be great for the front office to continue to evaluate the roster while planning for its future with Joe Burrow.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-13 (Last Week: 31) Lost 40-14 at Baltimore Congratulations Jaguars fans! Your team is now two losses away from landing Trevor Lawrence! With Jacksonville losing it’s 13th straight game and the Jets somehow knocking off the Rams, the Jags are in line to land the first overall pick. It hasn’t really been a fun season, but the outlook for the team under a new general manager with the best quarterback prospect to come out since Andrew Luck is incredibly exciting.
32. New York Jets: 1-13 (Last Week: 32) Won 24-21 at Los Angeles This was easily the most disappointed I’ve ever been after a Jets win in my life. I am thrilled the team will not finish 0-16. I really wanted them to avoid making that type of history. However, it is bittersweet, because I know how much of a difference Trevor Lawrence could make to this franchise. However, this could also open up a world of possibilities for the offseason. What the Jets decide to do with the No. 2 pick will be one of the biggest talking points of the offseason. For the next two weeks though, I will be rooting for the Bears and the Colts to slip up big time against the Jaguars and open the door for the Jets to reclaim the top spot in the draft.
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